Pixel Scroll 5/25/21 I Have No Button But I Must Correct That Typo

(1) STAR WARS AT 44. On the “realio trulio” Star Wars Day, Craig Miller posted two excerpts from his book, Star Wars Memories, on Facebook. Here’s a quote from the first part:

SAYING YES TO “STAR WARS” (FOX’S MARKET RESEARCH)

It wasn’t an easy sell to get a studio to okay production on “Star Wars”. George Lucas had made the extremely successful “American Graffiti” for Universal Studios. He had a three-picture deal with them. “American Graffiti” was the first. They wanted him to make more films for their studio. The whole purpose of a multi-picture deal, of providing on-going office space and services, is because the studio is betting that the films you make will be profitable and they want you to make those movies for them.

They turned “Star Wars” down.

The Readers Report, while generally favorable, included the phrase “Do we have faith that Mr. Lucas can pull this off?”. Obviously, Universal didn’t….

(2) TUCKERIZED TITANS. A new Teen Titans Go! episode titled ”Marv Wolfman and George Perez” will air this Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific, featuring animated versions of their namesakes voiced by themselves. Marv and George were the co-creators of Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg, who were added to Robin and the other Titans.

(3) CORA MAKES THE PAPER AGAIN. The second of Cora Buhlert’s two local papers, the Weser-Kurier, published its coverage of her latest Hugo nomination came out today: “Cora Buhlert aus Seckenhausen ist erneut für den Hugo Award nominiert” – behind a paywall, unfortunately.

Here’s a link to a scan of the print edition, where you can actually read the whole thing, though it’s still in German: “Neue Aussichten Auf die Rakete” (“New prospects for the rocket”).

 (4) CGI ZOMBIES. What, the studio wasn’t willing to hire real zombies? “Zack Snyder Breaks Down a Zombie Heist Scene from ‘Army of the Dead’” for Vanity Fair.

In this episode of ‘Notes On A Scene,’ Director Zack Snyder breaks down a zombie heist scene from ‘Army of the Dead.’ Zack guides us through the nuances and challenges of working with CGI zombies, and explains how he was able to edit Tig Notaro into his ‘Army of the Dead’ universe.

(5) IN CASE YOU WERE IN DANGER OF FORGETTING. Reddit’s u/caeciliusinhorto explicates a very sensitive bit of recent fanhistory: “Pounded in the Butt by the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work, or Who Can Call Themselves Hugo Award Winners?” The lengthy analysis begins mysteriously —

Many months ago I found myself on r/fanfiction explaining the history of the AO3 tag “Serious Human Male/Handsome Gay Living Archive”, and made a mental note that it would make a good HobbyDrama post if I wrote it up more comprehensively….

— and ends a mere 2700 words later with a link to the Tingle-esque work involved.

(6) REAR GUARD ACTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses a Star Trek convention he went to in New York City in 1975.

The climax of the convention came on Sunday the twelfth (January 12, 1975), when William Shatner (Captain Kirk) spoke before a superenthusiastic audience of more than four thousand, who filled the seats and aisles to capacity.  Shatner answered all questions with good humor and unpretentiousness and had everyone enthralled. When it was time to leave, he explained to everyone there was no way he could sign autographs for such huge a crowd and made ready to get off the stage.

At this point, the young man who organized the convention whispered in my ear, ‘Quick!  Get on the stage and hold the audience so that Shatner can get away.’

I said, ‘They’ll tear me limb from limb.’

But he was physically pushing me onto the stage while one of his henchmen was busily announcing me.

I started talking–babbling, rather.I waited for a mad, furious rush on the part of disappointed ‘Star Trek’ fanatics, but it didn’t come.  They seemed to be enjoying me, actually, and I was just beginning to relax and settle down when the organizer approached and said, ‘Shatner’s safely away.  Get off, so we can get on with the program.’  So I got off.

Talk about being used!

(7) CAN NEVER LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE. James Davis Nicoll tells you about attempts to terraform Terra in “Five Stories About Alien Attempts to Reshape the Earth” at Tor.com.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (Trans. Alexander O. Smith) (2004)

The aliens who dispatched the engineered lifeforms humans call Mimics did stop to consider the morality of xenoforming a world that might well be inhabited. But they concluded that xenoforming would be as ethically neutral as killing insects to make way for housing construction. No need to examine Earth before reshaping it.

Keiji Kiriya, human, thinks human needs are more important than alien schemes. Thus, his brief, glorious career in Earth’s defence forces. Thus his inevitable death the first time he encounters Mimics. His resurrection in the past—on the morning before the first battle—comes as an unexpected surprise. Alas, the results of the rerun battle are little better than the first. The same is true of the second. And the third…but by death 157, Keiji is getting the hang of the time loop in which he is trapped and well on his way to figuring out how he might save the Earth for humans.

(8) M.I.T. SF COURSE. MIT News discusses the aims of the institute’s sff course: “Inhabiting 21st-century science fiction”.

In March, literary heavyweights Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman — a Nobel laureate, and the beloved author of “American Gods,” “Sandman,” and “Good Omens,” respectively — convened at an independent bookstore event to discuss genre and science fiction.

They arrived at twin conclusions: one, that rigid genre distinctions between literary works promote an unproductive and false hierarchy of worth, and two, that the 21st century is a very tricky time to attempt to define “science fiction” at all. Gaiman said that he increasingly feels genre “slippage where science fiction is concerned” because, he says, “the world has become science fiction.” The hacking exploits in William Gibson’s novel “Neuromancer” or the sequencing of an entire genome overnight no longer belong to the realm of fantasy.

For MIT students, the permeable relationship between reality and science fiction is often familiar territory. In their labs and research projects, students and faculty experience personally the process by which imaginative ideas turn into new techniques, possibilities, medicines, tools, and technologies. (And they learn that many such new realities actually have had their origins in speculative literature.)

Students in the MIT Literature course 21L.434 (21st Century Science Fiction), taught by Assistant Professor Laura Finch, also discover that science fiction is a powerful, useful way to think about and understand the world we currently inhabit…. 

(9) ROBOT CREDENTIALS. Katie Engelhart parses “What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely” in The New Yorker.

It felt good to love again, in that big empty house. Virginia Kellner got the cat last November, around her ninety-second birthday, and now it’s always nearby. It keeps her company as she moves, bent over her walker, from the couch to the bathroom and back again. The walker has a pair of orange scissors hanging from the handlebar, for opening mail. Virginia likes the pet’s green eyes. She likes that it’s there in the morning, when she wakes up. Sometimes, on days when she feels sad, she sits in her soft armchair and rests the cat on her soft stomach and just lets it do its thing. Nuzzle. Stretch. Vibrate. Virginia knows that the cat is programmed to move this way; there is a motor somewhere, controlling things. Still, she can almost forget. “It makes you feel like it’s real,” Virginia told me, the first time we spoke. “I mean, mentally, I know it’s not. But—oh, it meowed again!”

She named the cat Jennie, for one of the nice ladies who work at the local Department of the Aging in Cattaraugus County, a rural area in upstate New York, bordering Pennsylvania. It was Jennie (the person) who told her that the county was giving robot pets to old people like her. Did she want one? She could have a dog or a cat. A Meals on Wheels driver brought Virginia the pet, along with her daily lunch delivery. He was so eager to show it to her that he opened the box himself, instead of letting Virginia do it. The Joy for All Companion pet was orange with a white chest and tapered whiskers. Nobody mentioned that it was part of a statewide loneliness intervention….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 25, 1977 — On this day in 1977, Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rogers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to.  Reception by critics and fans alike alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It holds a stellar ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender.  Four decades an active fan with husband Roy Lavender.  Together served a term as Secretary-Treasurer of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California.  They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host.  Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983, and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin).  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig.  Published his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories.  Founded the SF League with HG; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly.  See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here. (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb.  Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian).  The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel.  A dozen SF novels, a score of shorter stories, eight poetry collections – the first being Who Knows One?  Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1935 — W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent as well. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1939 — Ian McKellen, 82. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s  the Gus the Theatre Cat in the best forgotten Cats. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1946 — Frank Oz, 75. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh-so-patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1949 — Barry Windsor-Smith, 72. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty.  Engineer.  Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty.  At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”.  Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11]. Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon 2001, Loscon 36.  OGH’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai, age 68.  Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yôjinbô comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The rônin life is hard.  During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yôjinbô exhibit.  Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award.  [JH]
  • Born May 25, 1966 — Vera Nazarian, 55. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisherof Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
  • Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet, age 39.  Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Herbert, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Strugatsky, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay).  [JH]

(12) HIS SHIP CAME IN. “Working for Marvel Comics is a dream come true for Malaysian artist Alan Quah”, and it’s not a 9-to-5 job he says in a Yahoo! profile.

What is it like being a Marvel Comics artist? For Malaysian artist Alan Quah, it is nothing short of having a wish granted.

“It is a dream come true, because I collected Marvel Comics when I was really really young. When I became a teenager I drew comics for a living, then I left the [comics] industry for 15 years to venture into advertising. Then I came back and tried my luck drawing comics for the American market again,” said Alan Quah, who became a cover artist for Marvel Comics in late January this year.

The Petaling Jaya-based artist mainly does comic book covers for Marvel Comics in a work-for-hire agreement. In the United States, comics retailers may sometimes commission a cover for an issue of a comic. These covers are known as retailer exclusive variant covers. Comics retailers will liaise with Marvel Comics to determine the requirements and specifications of the cover art. Marvel Comics will then get in touch with Quah to create the artwork, along with all the relevant stakeholders.

Since joining Marvel Comics, he has worked on covers for the following titles: Alien, The Spider’s Shadow, Venom, and The Marvels (not related to the 1994 series Marvels, which was told from the perspective of man-on-the-street Phil Sheldon)….

(13) I KNOW — YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! A teaser trailer for Last Night in Soho has dropped. Opens in theaters this October.

Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller about a young girl, passionate in fashion design, who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it appears, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences…

(14) FASHION SHOW. Someone on eBay is selling this UFO-themed “Space Shopping” Hermes scarf.  They want $629 – but you can pay on monthly installments! This is not something to blow your nose on.

(15) IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST. “Body of missing man found in Spanish dinosaur statue” – the BBC reports how he got there.

Spanish police are investigating the death of a 39-year-old man whose body was found inside a dinosaur statue.

Authorities were alerted on Saturday after a father and his son noticed a smell emanating from the papier-mâché figure in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a suburb of Barcelona.

The father then saw the corpse through a crack in the Stegosaurus’ hollow leg.

Police said the man had been reported missing by his family, and no foul play is suspected.

Three fire brigade teams were called to scene after the body was discovered, and firefighters cut open the dinosaur leg to retrieve it.

Local media report the man – who has not been named – was trying to retrieve a mobile phone he dropped inside the statue. He then fell inside the decorative figure and was left trapped upside down, unable to call for help.

(16) IT MAY BE NEWS TO YOU. “Rachel Bloom sings Season’s of Love… in Klingon!” at the 2011 Worldcon.

Rachel Bloom’s performance at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. She was at the convention because her song “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” was nominated for a Hugo award. Sorry about the poor lighting. The room was set up for a disco, and Rachel gave a short performance.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Pokémon Snap”, Fandom Games says that this Pokémon movie where you take photos instead of shooting people, is the gaming equivalent of “a little amusement park ride and some photos at the end.”

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, N., Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Tom Galloway, Cora Buhlert, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Cat Rambo.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/21 Tick Two Pixels And Scroll Me In The Morning

(1) UNAUTHORIZED. Marina Lostetter illustrates her points about authorship with ancient and contemporary examples in “Le Morte d’Author: on Aggregate Storytelling and Authorial Hope” at Stone Soup.

…When aggregate storytelling is done unofficially, we call it “transformative work,” of which fan fiction is a major part.

An especially intriguing example of modern-day aggregate storytelling — from both an official and unofficial standpoint — is the TV show Supernatural, about two monster-hunting brothers and the found-family they make along the way. The show has enjoyed a voracious fanbase, which kept the series alive for fifteen seasons and spawned thousands and thousands of fan works (as of this writing, there are 243,690 entries related to Supernatural on Archive of Our Own alone. This is to say nothing of Tumblr, Twitter, etc.). 

Starting with the season four episode “The Monster at the End of this Book,” the show began engaging with fan reactions through self-referential stories. Sam and Dean literally read fan fiction about themselves on screen, and the characters used vernacular created by the Supernatural fanbase throughout. 

The fans didn’t simply consume the story. They changed the way the story was told. It would be difficult to argue that the author(s) should be considered as good as dead in terms of critical consideration when the author(s) were still actively creating in tandem with the audience’s reception… 

(2) ESCAPE POD’S BLACK FUTURE MONTH. The Escape Pod original science fiction podcast is taking submissions for Black Future Month.

Escape Pod is pleased to announce a new special project for 2021: Black Future Month, a month-long celebration of Black voices in science fiction, guest edited by Brent Lambert of FIYAH Magazine. Episodes will air in the month of October and feature two original works of short fiction as well as two reprints.

NOTE: For this special event, we are only accepting submission from authors of the African diaspora and the African continent. This is an intersectional definition of Blackness, and we strongly encourage submissions from women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and members from other underrepresented communities within the African diaspora.

Pay rate, format, and content will follow Escape Pod’s regular guidelines, with two exceptions:

  • Manuscripts do not need to be anonymized for this submissions portal. 
  • Stories must be between 1,500 – 5,000 words.

(3) SFF POSTAGE STAMPS COMING. The UK’s Royal Mail has announced that on March 16 the Legend of King Arthur stamps will be released. This set will be followed by an April 15 issue celebrating classic science fiction. As of today, no images from either set have been posted. Norvic Philatelics speculates what might be commemorated in the Classic Science Fiction set:  

This issue consists of pairs of 1st class, £1.70 and £2.55 stamps – with the usual additions of a presentation pack first day cover, and postcards.  

Some research reveals that this is the 75th anniversary of the death of the author H G Wells, and the 70th anniversary of the publication of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids”, so it seems likely that one of Wells’ books will feature on one stamp and Wyndham’s will appear on another. 

(4) GOODBYE, MR. CHIP. The trailer dropped for HBO Max’s Made for Love. It’s sf, right? At least for another few minutes.

The classic story of boy meets girl, boy implants high-tech surveillance chip in girl’s brain… Featuring Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, Noma Dumezweni, and Billy Magnussen, Made for Love is coming to HBO Max this April.

(5) IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE. Kristin Cashore shares my high opinion of this novel: “Bells and Echoes: The Craft of DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis”. The last time I praised the book here it caused an uproar. (And a few other consequences, one of which got nominated for a Hugo.)

…. Before I dive deep into Willis’s construction of parallel characters, I want to speak more generally about the potential for parallels — echoes — inside a book, when that book takes place in multiple timelines. Many books do take place in more than one timeline, of course, whether or not they involve time travel! And there’s so much you can do with that kind of structure. As you can imagine, life in Oxfordshire in 1348 is dramatically different from life in Oxford in 2054. But Willis weaves so many parallels into these two stories, big and small things, connecting them deftly, and showing us that some things never really change. I suppose the most obvious parallel in this particular book is the rise of disease. The less obvious is some of the fallout that follows the rise of disease, no matter the era: denial; fanaticism; racism and other prejudices; isolationism; depression and despair; depletion of supplies (yes, they are running out of toilet paper in 2054). She also sets these timelines in the same physical location, the Oxfords and Oxfordshires of 1348 and 2054 — the same towns, the same churches. Some of the physical objects from 1348 still exist in 2054. She sets both stories at Christmas, and we see that some of the traditions are the same. She also weaves the most beautiful web between timelines using bells, bellringers, and the significance of the sound of bells tolling. 

Simply by creating two timelines, then establishing that some objects, structures, and activities are the same and that some human behaviors are the same across the timelines, she can go on and tell two divergent plots, yet create echoes between them. These echoes give the book an internal resonance…. 

(6) YOU ARE THERE. Follow Kevin Standlee and Lisa Hayes on their “Atomic Tour in the Nevada Outback”.

Lisa and I have been getting increasingly antsy and wanting to get out of the house and go see things, but with no sign of a vaccine being available for us mere under-65s, we wanted something that would be away from other people and was close enough to be able to get back home the same day. So we decided to go see the site of the atomic test in our backyard….

I know it’s unlikely that anyone else will come visit this spot, but if somehow your travels take you across “The Loneliest Road,” you might consider a relatively short side trip to one of the few atomic bomb test sites you can visit on your own.

Project Shoal Monument

(7) FREE HWA ONLINE PANEL. The Horror Writers Association will present a free Zoom webinar, “Skeleton Hour 7: Writing Horror in a Post-Covid World” on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6 p.m. Pacific.  Panelists will include: Richard Thomas (moderator), Sarah Langan, Usman T. Malik, Josh Malerman, A.C. Wise, and Lucy A. Snyder. Register here.

(8) TIME TO TURN ON THE VACUUM OF SPACE. James Davis Nicoll sweeps together “Trashy Tales: Five Stories About Space Garbage” at Tor.com. In his collection is —

Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines (2017)

The Krakau found an Earth that has been overrun by the bestial survivors of a planetary plague. Still, better half a glass than an empty glass. The benevolent aliens retrieved suitable candidates from the raving hordes and applied suitable cognitive corrective measures. Lo and behold, humans were transformed from wandering monsters to trustworthy subordinates. Although perhaps not all that trustworthy. Humans are relegated to menial tasks.

Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is in charge of Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish’s Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. Chief janitor, in other words. Not command crew. Except that an unexpected attack eliminates her Krakau commanders while most of Pufferfish’s humans revert into beasts. Mops has no choice but to take command of a ship neither she nor the remaining non-bestial humans know how to operate.

(9) DARE YA. The upcoming online classes at the Rambo Academy include one with this irresistible description: “Breaking the Rules with Rachel Swirsky”.

Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense.
Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor.
“Break the Rules” will teach you inspirations and techniques for rowing upstream of common knowledge. You can break any rule–if you do it right.

Join award-winning speculative fiction writer Rachel Swirsky for a workshop in which she teaches you how and why to break the rules. Next class date: Sunday, April 4, 2021, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 8, 1978 The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast forty-three years ago today on BBC Radio 4. It was written by Douglas Adams with some material in the first series provided by John Lloyd. It starred Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey. Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore. It was the only radio show ever to be nominated for a Hugo in the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ category finishing second that year to Superman at Seacon ‘79. It would spawn theater shows, novels, comic books, a TV series, a video game, and a feature film.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 8, 1859 Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows which it turns out has had seven film adaptations, not all under the name The Wind in the Willows. (Did you know A.A. Milne dramatized it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall?) Oh, and he did write one other fantasy, The Reluctant Dragon which I’ve never heard of. Have any of y’all read it? (Died 1932.) (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1899 – Eric Linklater.  The Wind on the Moon reached the Retro-Hugo ballot; it won the Carnegie Medal.  Three more novels, nine shorter stories for us; two dozen novels all told, ten plays, three volumes of stories, two of poetry, three of memoirs, two dozen of essays & history.  Served in both World Wars.  Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1922 – John Burke.  Co-edited The Satellite and Moonshine (not Len Moffatt’s fanzine, another one).  A score of books including novelizations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (okay, call it adjacent), fourscore shorter stories, for us; a hundred fifty novels all told.  Correspondent of The FantastZenith, and at the end Relapse, which I wish Sir Peter Weston hadn’t retitled from Prolapse, but what do I know?  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018,) (CE)
  • Born March 8, 1932 – Jim Webbert, age 89.  Among our better auctioneers – we raise money that way, few would pay what con memberships really cost.  Collector of books, other art, model rockets.  HO model railroader.  Chemist.  Three decades in the Army Reserve, often teaching.  Often seen at LepreCon.  Fan Guest of Honor at TusCon 1, CopperCon 9, Con/Fusion, Kubla Khan 20 (all with wife Doreen). [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1934 Kurt Mahr. One of the first writers of the Perry Rhodan series, considered the largest SF series of the world. He also edited a Perry Rhodan magazine, wrote Perry Rhodan chapbooks and yes, wrote many, many short stories about Perry Rhodan.  He did write several other SF series. Ok, what’s the appeal of Perry Rhodan? He runs through SF as a genre but I’ve not read anything concerning him. (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born March 8, 1939 Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. Creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute which won a Hugo twice. He won another Hugo for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. His other publications were Science Fiction at LargeThe Science in Science Fiction edited by Nicholls and written by him and David Langford, and Fantastic Cinema.  He became the first Administrator of the United Kingdom based Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1948 – Jackie French Koller, age 73.  Four novels, six shorter stories, for us; three dozen books all told.  Watercolorist.  Makes gingerbread houses.  Her Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1973 – Daniel Griffo, age 48.  Lives in La Plata (a Silver Age artist?), Argentina, with wife, son, and two pets named Indiana and Jones.  I am not making this up.  Comics, lettering, 3-dimensional activity books, My Visit to the Acupuncturist (I’m not; why shouldn’t there be a children’s book about that?), two about Dragon Masters – here’s one of them, Future of the Time Dragon.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1976 Freddie Prinze Jr., 45. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done. (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1978 – Samanta Schweblin, age 43.  Another Argentine, this one living in Berlin, writing in Spanish.  Two novels, two shorter stories for us; three collections.  Casa de las Americas Award.  Juan Rulfo Prize.  Tigre Juan Award, Shirley Jackson Award for Distancia de rescate, in English Fever Dream.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side reveals the tragic conclusion of a nursery rhyme.  

(13) FOUR-POSTER. Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier today released four new character posters for Sam Wilson (Falcon)Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)Sharon Carter and Helmut Zemo as they near their March 19 premiere on Disney+.

(14) ON BOARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 3 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the appeal of board games during the pandemic.

For those who fancy themselves not Victorian engineers or colonial settlers but fantasy warriors and space explorers, games such as Twilight Imperium and Terraforming Mars hold more appeal.  You can learn the rules of most within an hour or two, but there are some more elaborate offerings such as dungeon crawler Gloomhaven, which weighs 10kg and currently sits at the top of the ratings on the authoritative site BoardGameGeek.  Games have grown in beauty as well as sophistication–see Wingspan, with its 180 gorgeous bird illustrations and pleasing tokens in the shape of pastel-shaded eggs.

As the games themselves have become more desirable, board game cafes such as Draughts in London and Snakes and Lattes in Toronto have sprung up and help legitimise board gaming,  At the same time, the internet has facilitated the discovery of new games and willing opponents, as well as enabling the rising trend of board game crowdfunding–Frosthaven, the followup to Gloomhaven, raised almost $13m on Kickstarter.”

(15) PSA FROM WJW. Walter Jon Williams has shared “My Mask Policy” on his blog:

After having endured the horrors of Oklahoma and Kentucky, I’ve decided that I should announce my mask policy.  I’m not a head of state or a governor, I’m just a guy, so there is no way to enforce my preferences on the world— except, of course, by way of sarcasm and mockery.

Just remember that I’m the guy that came up with several rules for living, including Williams’ First Law: Assholes Always Advertise.

So here goes:

While there is very little scientific data about how effective mask use is in preventing COVID, the wearing of masks in public is (at the very least) a courtesy to others, particularly those most vulnerable to the disease.

So if you’re in public and not wearing a mask, I’m not going to assume that you’re a brave  iconoclastic thinker challenging accepted dogma, I’m going to assume that you are a complete asshole.  And not only are you an asshole, you’re advertising yourself as such.

(16) EXPLORING THE DEBRIS. At Amazing Stories, “Veronica Scott Reviews NBC’s ‘Debris’ Episode One”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

…On the positive side, I love the concept of the alien spaceship disintegrating as it enters the solar system. I’m frankly fascinated by the backstory of that, which sadly,  in episode one at least, the series shows no signs of exploring, versus the “what does each piece of debris do this week” storytelling. I liked the way the program began, with the tiny shard of debris transporting an unfortunate maid from high up in a hotel to her death in the dining room, without marring any of the ceilings or floors she falls through. Grabbed my attention!

But there was very little about the alien technology or curiosity on anyone’s part about the aliens themselves or what destroyed the ship. No discussion about whether the debris is actually some kind of invasion or what might happen next. No one here seems to care if there was an FTL drive to be had.  I frankly wished this was a series about going to explore what’s left of the hulk in space, rather than these cut and dried, solved in an hour individual cases….

(17) A LITTLE LIST. At the Hugo Book Club Blog, Olav Rokne has compiled a list of “Screen adaptations of Hugo-shortlisted works”. There are 47 so far.  (The list excludes Retro Hugo awards as well as all Graphic Novels and comic book adaptations.)

(18) SEUSSWATCH. Adina Bresge, in the Canadian Press story “Canadian libraries reassess Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication for racist images” says that a lot of Canadian libraries are checking to see if they have the six books Dr. Seuss Enterprises has withdrawn from circulation and some of them have pulled the books from the shelves.

The scrutiny also prompted some public libraries to review their Dr. Seuss collections.

A group of librarians across Toronto Public Library’s system will evaluate the titles in question and issue recommendations, according to a spokeswoman.

“Occasionally, children’s books written some time ago are brought to our attention for review,” Ana-Maria Critchley said in an email.

“If the review determines there are racial and cultural representation concerns the committee will recommend to either withdraw the book from our library collections or move the book from children’s collections to another location, such as a reference collection for use by researchers.”

The Vancouver Public Library is also launching reviews of each of the six Dr. Seuss titles.

Scott Fraser, manager of marketing and communications, said this process is usually initiated by a request from a patron, but the library made an exception given the “extremely unusual” decision by a rights holder to suspend publication.

Copies of the books will remain on the shelves while the review is underway, Fraser said, and officials will then decide whether to keep a title in the collection, change its classification or remove it from the stacks.

Vancouver Public Library previously reviewed “If I Ran the Zoo” in 2014 in response to a complaint about stereotypical depictions of Asians. A caption in the book describes three characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”

The library decided to keep the book on the shelves, but stop reading it at storytime, and only promote it as an example of how cultural depictions have changed….

(19) GALE WARNING. “Scientists Discover Massive ‘Space Hurricane’ Above Earth”Vice has the story.

…Prior to this discovery, Zhang and his research group had been pondering the possible existence of space hurricanes for years. The team’s research focus lies in the interactions between the ionosphere, an atmospheric layer that extends some 50 to 600 miles above Earth’s surface, and the magnetosphere, the region shaped by our planet’s protective magnetic field. At the poles, these interactions generate the magical and dazzling auroras that are popularly known as the Northern and Southern Lights. 

Tropical hurricanes are driven in part by the movements of heavy air masses that generate strong winds; Zhang and his colleagues suspected a similar mechanism might be at work in the outer space environment close to Earth. In the case of space hurricanes, the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows from the Sun, slams into Earth’s upper atmosphere and transfers its energy into the ionosphere, driving the cyclone formation.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “WandaVision Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Marvel fans will be frustrated by the slow drip of revelations about how WandaVision connects to the MCU that they’ll become really frustrated by the phrase “Please Stand By.”

 [Thanks to Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/21 Got My Mjolnir Working

(1) IF YOU LOVED THEM IN GOOD OMENS… A finalist for RadioTimes.com Awards 2021– TV Moment of the Year is Judi Dench slamming David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Staged, a British comedy series set during the COVID-19 pandemic and primarily made using video-conferencing technology.

David Tennant and Michael Sheen playing exaggerated versions of themselves (actors) in 2020 trying to get work is already hilarious, but add in Dame Judi Dench and you’ve got a work of art. Tennant and Sheen aren’t exactly enthusiastic about their new role in a play, and Dench is on hand to remind them they have said yes to a job so they should “stop f**king about” and “do the bloody job”. That’s them (and us) told.

The series premiered on BBC One last summer, and another eight-episode series was released January 4. The first series synopsis is —

David Tennant and Michael Sheen (playing themselves) were due to star in a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author in the West End. The pandemic has put paid to that, but their director (Simon Evans – also playing himself) is determined not to let the opportunity pass him by. He knows how big a chance this is for him and turns his attention to cajoling his stars into rehearsing over the internet. All they need to do is read the first scene, but throughout the series they come up against a multitude of oppositional forces: distraction, boredom, home-schooling and their own egos.

(2) THE MAN FROM UNCLES. Don Blyly is interviewed by Carz Nelson in “Down But Not Out: The Future of Uncle Hugo’s” at The Alley Newspaper.

…Deciding whether to reopen the stores won’t be easy. At 70 years young, many assumed owner Don Blyly would retire from retail business after the fire. Such assumptions are premature, however. It takes a lot of drive to start over from nothing, but Blyly seems to be equal to whatever tasks he sets himself.

…He admits that he has a knack for bouncing back from adversity, “I’ve noticed that I seem to have more resilience than most other people and I’ve wondered why. Partly it is stubbornness. Partly it is because the more of a track record you have at overcoming previous difficulties, the more confidence you have of overcoming the latest difficulty.”

Blyly says the city has a lot to answer for when it comes to the uprising, “Back in 2015 the Department of Justice made recommendations for reforming the Minneapolis Police, but the City Council has done nothing to implement those recommendations. The judge in the trial of Mohamed Noor for the murder of Justine Damond raised issues about problems with the Minneapolis Police that have never been addressed.” 

Since the uprising and subsequent looting, he’s concerned that many people think the area is too dangerous to visit, “About half of my sales were to people outside the I-495/ I-694 loop, and they are now scared to come to Minneapolis to spend their money. Customers in South Minneapolis told me that they would be scared to return to the Uncles if I rebuilt in the old location. The city is going to have to actually work on fixing the problems with the Minneapolis Police instead making ‘defunding’ speeches before people will feel comfortable about spending their money in Minneapolis again.”

(3) IT PAYS TO BE POSTHUMOUS. Julie Phillips, in “Born to Be Posthumous” at 4Columns, reviews Mark Dery’s Born To Be Posthumous:  The Eccentric Life And Mysterious Genius Of Edward Gorey.

By his mid-twenties, the artist and illustrator Edward Gorey had already settled on his signature look: long fur coat, jeans, canvas high-tops, rings on all his fingers, and the full beard of a Victorian intellectual. His enigmatic illustrations of equally fur-coated and Firbankian men in parlors, long-skirted women, and hollow-eyed, doomed children (in The Gashlycrumb Tinies, among other works) share his own gothic camp aesthetic. Among the obvious questions for a reader of Gorey’s biography are: Where in his psyche, or in the culture, did all those fey fainting ladies and ironic dead tots come from? And, not unrelatedly: Was Gorey gay?

…Gorey described himself as “undersexed” in a 1980 interview, and equivocated: “I’ve never said that I was gay and I’ve never said that I wasn’t. A lot of people would say that I wasn’t because I never do anything about it.” Did he reject a gay sexuality, or was his particular sexuality, perhaps asexuality, not yet on the menu? Dery isn’t out to judge, and encourages us instead to look at how Gorey’s arch imagery, flamboyant self-presentation, and “pantheon of canonically gay tastes” (ballet, Marlene Dietrich records, silent film) allow him to be read in the context of gay culture and history, whatever his praxis in bed…. 

(4) TOO MANY NOTES. Vox’s Aja Romano investigates a kerfuffle at Archive Of Our Own (AO3) about the issues of a million-word fanfic with 1,700 tags. “Sexy Times with Wangxian: The internet’s most beloved fanfiction site is undergoing a reckoning”.

… Since it first appeared in October 2019, “Sexy Times With Wangxian,” or STWW, has become notorious across AO3. That in itself is unusual, because most AO3 users stick to their own fandoms and don’t pay much attention to what’s happening in others. STWW belongs to the fandom for the wildly popular Chinese TV series The Untamed, and the “Wangxian” in the title refers to the ship name for the show’s beloved main romantic pairing. It’s a very long fanfic, over a million words, and contains more than 200 chapters of porn featuring The Untamed’s large cast in endless permutations and sexual scenarios.

All that, by itself, isn’t enough to make STWW remarkable — not on a website as wild and unpredictable as AO3. Yet the fic has become impossible for many AO3 users to ignore thanks to a unique quirk: Its author has linked it to more than 1,700 site tags (and counting).

A quick note about AO3’s tagging system: It is designed to let users tag creatively and freely. So you can add useful tags, like pairing labels and character names, but you can also toss in personalized tags for fun and creative expression, from “no beta readers we die like men” to “I wrote this at 4am on three bottles of Monster Energy and zero sleep don’t judge.”

The tagging system is in service of the site’s total permissiveness — you can write anything you want in tags. But for the site to function, tags still need to be useful for navigation. So AO3 has hordes of volunteers known as “tag wranglers” whose sole job is to sort through the massive number of fic tags on the site and decide which ones will actually help users find what they’re looking for.

Those tags are then made “canonical,” which means they’ll become universal tags that every user can sort through. They’ll also appear within a list of suggested tags as you type. If I start to type “hospital” while tagging a fic, AO3 will return canonical tag suggestions like “Alternate Universe — Hospital,” “Hospital Sex,” and “Hogwarts Hospital Wing.” That makes it easy to determine whether your fic fits tags the community is already using.

AO3’s tagging system is so organized and thorough that it has won widespread acclaim from fields like library science and internet infrastructure. But it still has its limits — and with more than 1,700 tags, “Sexy Times With Wangxian” has revealed what some of those limits look like — in some cases quite literally….

The tags are so numerous, they can’t fit into a single screenshot on a large monitor. Here’s a quick scroll through the entire thing…

(5) THEY’RE FEELING BETTER. Jen Chaney, in “No, They Weren’t Dead the Whole Time” at Vulture, has an oral history of the last episode of Lost, which reveals that showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof had the ambiguous ending in mind the whole time and that the show was so important that the State of the Union in 2010 was moved because it conflicted with the final season opening episode.

…When the finale aired, it sparked divided responses (understatement) from fans. Some loved the emotional way in which Jack’s journey and that of his fellow survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 came to a close. Others were extremely vocally angry about not getting more direct answers to the show’s many questions. Still others came away from it all convinced that the castaways had been dead the whole time. (They were not dead. They really weren’t.)

What was semi-clear at the time and is even clearer now is that the broadcast of the Lost finale would mark the end of something else: the truly communal broadcast television experience. Subsequent finales would be major events (see HBO’s Game of Thrones) and even draw larger audiences (2019’s final Big Bang Theory attracted 18 million viewers, compared to the 13.5 million who tuned in for the Lost farewell). But nothing else since has felt so massively anticipated and so widely consumed in real time the way that the end of Lost, the Smoke Monster Super Bowl, did in 2010.

Vulture did extensive interviews with writers, cast, and crew members, who reflected on the development of “The End,” the making of the still hotly debated episode, and the cultural conversation it continues to generate. Because, yes, of course, we had to go back.

(6) AT HOME WITH SFF. Aidan Moher conducts a lively and revealing Q&A with Yoon Ha Lee, Brian Staveley, Kate Elliott, Aliette de Bodard in “Blood Matters: Growing Up in an SF/F House” at Uncanny Magazine.

…An appreciation for speculative fiction isn’t always handed down from within a family. Sometimes it grows on its own, or is introduced by a friend or a teacher. Or a child is uninterested, despite their parents’ best efforts to sway them to the side of elves and proton cannons. I recently reached out to several writers to ask them about their experience growing up, their parents’ relationship to speculative fiction, and the impact that parenthood has had on them as writers….

…There are also emotional sacrifices that come along with parenthood. After the birth of her first child, de Bodard’s tolerance for stories featuring child abuse or endangerment “went from weak to zero” immediately. “I had to put off reading a book I was much looking forward to because I couldn’t get past the violence against a child.” As the father of a daughter, I’ve had a similar experience to de Bodard, and have also become even more aware of and angered by the pervasive sexism that continues to plague speculative fiction and fandom.

Personal writing of any sort reveals layers to a person that even their close friends and loved ones might not recognize. My wife often finds it odd to read my writing—not because of the subject matter, but because it’s told in a voice that doesn’t sound familiar to her ear.

“My children have all read at least some of my writing,” said Elliott. “I often consult them about plot, character, and world–building because I like to hear their feedback, because they know me so well, and because they have fascinating and deep imaginations. They are probably my most valuable writing resource, with my cherished writer and reader friends a close second.”…

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman offers listeners the opportunity to “Savor Stan Lee’s favorite sandwich with comics writer Jo Duffy” in episode 139 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jo Duffy

My old Marvel Bullpen pal Jo Duffy had a lengthy, celebrated run back then on Power Man and Iron Fist, where she also wrote Conan the BarbarianFallen AngelsStar Wars, and Wolverine. She also wrote Catwoman for DC and Glory for Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios imprint of Image Comics. Additionally, she worked on the screenplays for the horror films Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master 5.

We discussed why she knows what Superman will look like when he’s 100, the many reasons our kid selves both thought Marvel had D.C. beat, the genius of Marie Severin, how I may have inadvertently been responsible for her getting a job as an Assistant Editor in the Marvel Bullpen, what it was like to work with Steve Ditko, the firing she still feels guilty about 40 years later, how she approached the challenge of writing Power Man and Iron Fist, the letter she wrote to Stan Lee after the death of Jack Kirby, the two-year-long Star Wars story arc she was forced to squeeze into a few issues, the best writing advice she ever got, and much more.

(8) FIRST THERE IS NO MOUNTAIN, THEN THERE IS. Sarah Gailey, in “Building Beyond: Move Mountains” at Stone Soup, gets an assist from Alex Acks and nonwriter Kacie Winterberg to illustrate how easy a particular facet of sff creation can be:

Building Beyond is an ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.

How do you go about communicating with a mountain to prevent it from pursuing its ambition of becoming a volcano?

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

February 26, 1977 — On this day in 1977, Doctor Who’s “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Part 1” first aired. It featured Tom Baker, considered the most popular of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. The villain was most likely a not-so-accidental take off of Fu Manchu. Cat Eldridge reviewed the episode at A Green Man Review. You can watch the first part online here with links to the rest of the story there as well. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 26, 1874 – Katherine Cameron.  Member, Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (Women Artists after 1975).  A dozen illustrated books for us.  This is in Stories from the Ballads (M. Macgregor, 1906).  Here are Snowdrop and the Seven Dwarfs.  Here is Celtic Tales.  Here is Undine.  This is in The Enchanted Land.  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born February 26, 1916 – Clifford Geary.  A dozen covers, two dozen interiors for us; many others.  Noteworthy in particular for illustrating Heinlein’s “juveniles”.  Here is a frontispiece for Starman Jones.  Here is an interior for Between Planets.  This is in Space Cadet.  Here is one from outside our field.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at it. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 76. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in  the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and  Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (CE)
  • Born February 26, 1945 – Alex Eisenstein, age 76; 1946 – Phyllis Eisenstein (Died 2020).  Active fannish couple; P also an active pro, a dozen novels, twoscore shorter stories with A collaborating on half a dozen; so far as I know The City in Stone, completed, remains unpublished.  AE co-edited Trumpet.  Here is his cover for More Issues at Hand.  PE was Guest of Honor at Windycon XXX, Capricon 26, ConQuesT 38; a soft-sculpture of her was part of the Fanzine Lounge at Chicon VI the 58th Worldcon.  AE, a noted SF art collector, has organized many displays including that Chicon.  [JH]
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 73. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. (CE) 
  • Born February 26, 1952 – Bob Devney, F.N., age 69.  Eight-time finalist for Best Fanwriter.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Lover of SF movies – some of them, anyway.  When I remarked to him I hadn’t seen The Devniad in a while, he muttered something about Twitter; but quite possibly he still hasn’t recovered from Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon, where he worked very hard, as I saw and maybe you did too.  [JH]
  • Born February 26, 1957 – John Jude Palencar, age 64.  A hundred ninety covers, five dozen  interiors.  Artbook Origins.  Here is Rhinegold.  Here is Kushiel’s Avatar.  Here is The Dark Line.  Here is Mind of My Mind.  This picture led to The Palencar Project – David Hartwell did such things.  Five Chesleys.  American Water Color Society Gold Medal.  Hamilton King Award.  Spectrum Grand Master.  Also National GeographicSmithsonianTime.  [JH]
  • Born February 26, 1963 Chase Masterson, 57. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on  Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot though she hardly had any lines. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current carnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late. The series there features here as Vienna Salvatori, an “impossibly glamorous bounty hunter” as the publicity material including photos of her puts it. (CE) 
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 56. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read. (CE)
  • Born February 26, 1968 – Lynne Hansen, age 53.  Half a dozen novels, ten dozen covers.  Here is Strangewood.  Here is Things That Never Happened (hello, Scott Edelman).  Here is A Complex Accident of Life.  Here is The High Strangeness of Lorelei Jones.  [JH]

(11) COATES TO SCRIPT SUPERMAN MOVIE. Trey Mangum, in “Ta-Nehisi Coates To Write Upcoming Superman Film From DC And Warner Bros.” on Shadow and Act, says Coates will write a script for a Superman movie to be produced by J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot, but with no director or stars attached at this time.

…We’re hearing that no director is attached as of yet and plot details remain under wraps. Additionally, the search for an actor to play Kal-El / Superman hasn’t started yet.

“To be invited into the DC Extended Universe by Warner Bros., DC Films and Bad Robot is an honor,” said Coates in a statement received only by Shadow and Act. “I look forward to meaningfully adding to the legacy of America’s most iconic mythic hero.”

“There is a new, powerful and moving Superman story yet to be told. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the brilliant Mr. Coates to help bring that story to the big screen, and we’re beyond thankful to the team at Warner Bros. for the opportunity,” said J.J. Abrams in the statement to S&A.

“Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me opened a window and changed the way many of us see the world,” added Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We’re confident that his take on Superman will give fans a new and exciting way to see the Man of Steel.”

(12) SANS RIDES ET SANS REPROCHE. Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara finds this is a rhetorical question: “Is Disney California Adventure, with no rides, worth $75?”

…If you think Disney’s recent announcement that it will soon be charging $75 a head for the thrill of wandering around California Adventure to buy and eat things while admiring the entrances to still-closed rides is nuts, I am here to tell you that it is not.

At least not if my recent visit to Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street is any indication.

…It was absolutely clear right away. Desperate for even the faintest tang of the Disney experience, thousands of us apparently are quite willing to settle for the elements of the Disney experience we normally complain about the most: waiting in line, overpriced food and the siren call of way too much Disney merch.

Late on a recent Wednesday afternoon, it was a 45-minute wait simply to enter the Downtown Disney area, 50 if you count the five-minute walk from the car, which cost 10 bucks to park.

To be fair, the line that snaked through an entire parking lot could be construed, at least in these coronavirus-plagued times, as a Disney experience in and of itself. The now-ubiquitous six-feet-apart marks created a socially distant conga line that involved far more walking than standing: “Well, we’re getting our steps in,” one of my daughters remarked.

…As the sun set over the Simba parking lot and our group advanced through the temperature-taking station and the bag-check station, then past a police presence prominent enough to make any mask-shirker think twice, one could at least imagine a world returning to something approaching normal.

Listen to the piped-in music! Yes, once upon a time it did indeed drive some of us insane. But now, after a yearlong lifetime of home-office work — concentration broken on an hourly basis by the maddening syncopated roar of leaf blowers and brain-drilling hum of the neighbors’ home improvement project — all those Disney tunes fell around us like the singing of a heavenly host….

(13) MARTINE’S SEQUEL. In a review at Fantasy Literature, Bill Capossere makes the book sound irresistible: “A Desolation Called Peace: Wonderfully rich and nuanced”,

…Beyond the plot reasons, I loved that it was more a cultural conflict because that concept is at the heart of this duology: the way the Empire doesn’t simply conquer via its military but swamps others with its pervasive, relentless, invasive cultural tentacles (hmm, sound familiar?), the way the question of “who counts as human” (or more broadly, who can be considered a person) runs throughout the Empire on a macro level, and throughout the relationship between Mahit and Three Seagrass on a micro level.

… It’s impossible to read these moments and not relate them to everyday existence for those forced to swim in the sea of a majority culture. This fraught tension is made all the richer for how Martine portrays (realistically) how seductive such cultural power is even for those it threatens to swamp, like falling in love with the waves that are trying to drown you. And then it gets under the skin and into the brain so it becomes almost second nature: “Mahit laughed, a raw sound … She couldn’t do it all. She thought in Teixcalaanli, in imperial-style metaphor and overdetermination. She’d had this whole conversation in their language.”

(14) HARD TIME. Will it be at least seven more years before Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus has something good to say about the monthly issue of Analog? “[February 26, 1966] Such promise (March 1966 Analog)”.

… It all came down to this month’s Analog.  If it were superb, as it was last month, then we’d have a clean sweep across eight periodicals.  If it flopped, as it often does, the streak would be broken.

As it turns out, neither eventuality quite came to pass.  Indeed, the March 1966 Analog is sort of a microcosm of the month itself — starting out with a bang and faltering before the finish….

(15) FROM BROADWAY TO BROADBAND. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 19 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews “online interactive theatre shows” which try to capture some of the spontaneity of live theatre.

Collaboration is key to success with all these show: the quicker an audience learns to share tasks, the better.  In Sherlock In Homes:  Murder At The Circus (from the Wardrobe Theatre and Sharp Teeth Theatre), this turns out to be a group of small girls from Wales with a formidable line in questioning,  (The same companies have also created Sherlock In Homes 2:  Murder On Ice.)

Another Sherlock-inspired show, Murder At The Circus is a droll, family-friendly affair, low on tech high in audience-actor interaction. Sherlock is missing (again), leaving behind a rum case involving a dead circus clown and a plate of potted meat.  We, the impromptu detectives, must quiz a line-up of dubious suspects with names like Glenda Flex (acrobat) and Rory McPride (lion tamer), all of whom are adept at juggling the truth.

After several rounds of unfocused interrogation from our team, the Welsh 10-year-olds spring into action. “Where were you location-wise when you were kissing?’ demands one, sternly, of a particularly evasive character,  It would take a hardened criminal not to crack.”

The websites for this are sharpteeththeatre.orgthewardrobetheatre.com, and sherlockimmersive.com.

(16) MALZBERG ON PKD. A year ago on the DickHeads Podcast: “Interview #12 – Barry Malzberg – Malzberg Spectacular Part 1”.

David must have done something right because author Barry Malzberg was willing to sit down for a lengthy phone conversation with him. In this interview, Barry leads David through his experiences with multiple authors including PKD, the in’s and out’s of the publishing industry of the 60s and 70s, and more. Also, don’t forget to check out part 2 of our Barry Malzberg Spectacular where author James Reich joins David in an in-depth look at the award-winning novel Beyond Apollo, which garnered the first ever John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

(17) POTATO HEAD, THE MORNING AFTER. The London Economic has an entertaining collection of tweets about yesterday’s kerfuffle: “Best reactions as usual mouthpieces are foaming over a genderless Potato Head”. Here are a few —

When it was all over but the shouting, Reason’s Robby Soave announced:  “Mr. Potato Head will remain the strong, masculine figure he always was.”

(18) IN MELODY YET GREEN. The Washington Post’s Tim Carman reviews Lady Gaga Oreos. They’re pink! (With green filling!) “Lady Gaga Oreos are an extra-sweet mystery wrapped in an enigmatic pink wafer”.

…One of the promotions tied to Gaga’s cookies is a Sing It with Oreo feature. You can make personal recordings, transform them into “musical messages of kindness” and send them to folks you love and support. The pink foil packaging for Gaga Oreos features a QR code, which provides instant access to the recording function. You probably have to give up countless pieces of personal information in the process, but go ahead, “Just sing from the heart, and make someone’s day a little brighter.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/15/21 Scroll With A Pixel Earring

(1) LET THERE BE LIGHT. Besides the Le Guin stamp coming out this year, the United States Post office has announced they will release a series of stamps highlighting images of the Sun captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

…The 20-stamp set features ten images that celebrate the science behind NASA’s ongoing exploration of our nearest star. The images display common events on the Sun, such as solar flares, sunspots and coronal loops. SDO has kept a constant eye on the Sun for over a decade. Outfitted with equipment to capture images of the Sun in multiple wavelengths of visible, ultraviolet, and extreme ultraviolet light, SDO has gathered hundreds of millions of images during its tenure to help scientists learn about how our star works and how its constantly churning magnetic fields create the solar activity we see.

(2) IN DEMAND. How many Hugo winners have AO3’s problem? “People Are Reading So Much Fanfiction It’s Crashing the Biggest Fanfic Website”Vice has the story. (Well, I used to have that problem, however, it only took 15 people doing a certain thing for it to happen, and now that it’s fixed I don’t need to raise my hand.)

Over the weekend fanfiction website Archive of our Own went down, to the dismay of fanfic readers everywhere. While it’s not the result of any one fic, despite what some fans thought, it’s a reflection of how much the pandemic has changed our fanfiction reading habits.

Archive of our Own is a website to archive transformative works, also known as fanfiction. Fanfiction uses the fictional boundaries of someone else’s fiction in order to tell new stories with those characters and in those universes. While fanfiction is mostly associated with lovesick, teenage Twilight fans who insert themselves into their favorite novels, fanfiction and the associated cultural force of fandom has become the default view of what it means to be a fan. For some fans, especially in particularly online fandoms, reading fanfiction and reacting to it is a huge part of how they express their fandom. Over time, Archive of Our Own has been recognized as both a very popular website and a culturally important one, eventually winning a Hugo Award for best related work.

Over the weekend, Archive of Our Own went down, much to the surprise and chagrin of people who were in the middle of their fics. The beleaguered posting from people who were hoping to relax with the two new chapters of fanfiction like the Mandalorian fic “Rough Day” were funny enough. I only knew about the outage because Kotaku writer Ash Parrish was lamenting that she’d planned an entire night of relaxing with fanfiction, only for the site to go down…. 

(3) DISCON III. K. Tempest Bradford had one of the more thorough critical responses to Colette H. Fozard’s post about resigning as DisCon III co-chair. Thread starts here.  

(4) RENAME THE SPACE FORCE? Once reports circulated that the Biden administration will retire the “Operation Warp Speed” name for its push to vaccinate Americans for the coronavirus, Twitter answered with a suggestion to also eliminate the Space Force name – or the military branch itself.

C. Stuart Hardwick, Analog writer and six-time Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award finalist, offered this defense.

(5) NEW TABLET. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green, in “The ReMarkable Tablet–First Impressions”, reviews a tool that some writers will find helpful.

After watching the tablet make its way from Hong Kong to various states around the country before reaching the DFW area, I finally have my ReMarkable tablet….

… I’m one of those writers who has to resort to pen and paper from time to time to work through plot problems, etc. I’ve been using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2 when I’ve reached that point, taking advantage of the handwriting to text apps. It worked but it never really “felt” right. I knew I wasn’t putting pen to paper. That, in turn, kept reminding me all I needed to do was open an app or the internet and . . . shiny!

The ReMarkable is an e-ink tablet. It doesn’t have a web browser. There are no games. It is a productivity tool only. You can set up folders and notebooks and take notes or draw. You can convert your notes to text. Using the desktop or phone app, you can sync your work between your tablet and your other devices. You can also email your work to yourself or someone else….

(6) A DIVE INTO THE TANK. Cora Buhlert has her second installment of “Fanzine Spotlight: The Drink Tank”.

Today’s featured fanzine is The Drink Tank, a seven-time Hugo finalist (if I’ve counted correctly) and Hugo winner for Best Fanzine in 2011.

And now I’d like to welcome Christopher J. Garcia of The Drink Tank.

Tell us about your site or zine.

I started doing The Drink Tank is in 2005. That series ended in 2015, and I took a 3 year break and started back up with two new co-editors. The concept this time around is that we take a different theme for every issue. Some aren’t SFF, like our issues on The Tower of London or Musicals, but many are, like our look at Science Fiction Comics and Universal Monsters. Our issues range anywhere from 12 to 50-ish pages and tend to be from a wide-range of writers and artists. We’ve been lucky enough to get some amazing material from some amazing people.

(7) WILL GET PAID. SF critic Paul Kincaid shares some good news — he got results after contacting a publisher that had announced a volume containing a reprint of his essay which they did not have permission to use.

It looks like the saga of the Routledge volume is drifting towards a conclusion. Routledge have offered me compensation, which I have accepted. And it looks like a couple of science fiction journals at least are reconsidering their policy on copyright, which is the real principle of the thing. But we do need to be wary about copyright on our essays and reviews from now on.

(8) AURORA AWARDS. The Eligibility Lists for the Auroras are now open for submissions from members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association.

To view works already submitted, you can view our public eligibility listings. Keep in mind that these will change throughout the eligibility submission period.
You need to be logged in to submit works to the eligibility lists.
If you do do not wish to vote in the Aurora Awards but wish to submit works to the Eligibility lists, please contact us to request a non-voting account.
Eligibility closes February 28, 2021.

(9) CONSTANTINE OBIT. British sff author Storm Constantine (1956-2021) died January 14 at the age of 64. She was primarily known for her Wraeththu series. The author of over 30 published novels and non-fiction books, Constantine’s novel Scenting Hallowed Blood was a British Fantasy Award finalist in 1997. Her story “Priest of Hands” was a nominee for the British SF Association Award in 1993, and “The Oracle Lips” was shortlisted for the Otherwise Award in 1998. Constantine also headed Immanion Press, an independent publishing company she founded in 2003.

 Storm Constantine, at the 1995 Glasgow World SF Convention. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

(10) RICHMAN OBIT. Many, many genre roles. He was even the Voice of God once —“Peter Mark Richman Dies: Versatile Actor For Broadway, Film, TV Was 93”Deadline remembers:

Peter Mark Richman… died [Jan 14] in Woodland Hills, Calif. of natural causes. He was 93. Born on April 16th, 1927. …film roles in …Friday the 13th Part 8. In television, … over 500 guest star appearances on such shows as  The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, and Star Trek the Next Generation. 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 15, 1995 Star Trek: Voyager premiered on UPN. It originally aired from January 1995 to May 2001 on UPN, lasting for one hundred seventy-two episodes over seven seasons. The fifth series in the Star Trek franchise, it served as the fourth sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. Voyager would be the first Trek series to feature a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), as the lead character. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a seventy-seven percent rating overall. (CE)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 15, 1860 – Eleanor Hull.  Co-founder of the Irish Texts Society, honorary secretary thirty years.  President, Irish Literary Society.  Eight books, some ours e.g. Folklore of the British Isles.  Hard to say how much the tale of Cuchulain is fantasy; anyway, see here.  (Died 1935) [JH]
  • Born January 15, 1913 Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, but  I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed because it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.) (CE) 
  • Born January 15, 1928 Joanne Linville, 93. She played the Romulan commander in Trek’s “The Enterprise Incident” episode.  She previously starred in the Twilight Zone’s “The Passersby”, and been in two episodes of One Step Beyond as Aunt Mina in “The Dead Part of the House” episode and as Karen Wadsworth in the “A Moment of Hate” episode. She’d have later one-offs on The InvadersI-Spy and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.(CE)
  • Born January 15, 1935 Robert Silverberg, 86. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t? (CE) 
  • Born January 15, 1944 Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if I find sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read his Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born January 15, 1945 Ron Bounds, 76. A fan who was one of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees.  He chaired Loscon 2.  He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well. Played the barbarian alongside Jerry Jacks in the immortal Worldcon masquerade entry “Fafhrd & the Gay (sic) Mouser”. (CE)
  • Born January 15, 1963 – Bruce Schneier, Ph.D., age 58.  He was in Minneapa during its last years, as in a way was I through the Minneapa – APA-L combination (can an apa belong to another apa? why not? of course Tom Digby thought this up).  With Karen Cooper he co-authored the Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide, which placed 5th for the Best-Related-Book Hugo.  Eventually his interest, and expertise, in electronic security dominated.  [JH]
  • Born January 15, 1965 James Nesbitt, 56. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy TalesThe Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesStan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role. (CE) 
  • Born January 15, 1974 – Shaun Tan, age 47.  A score of short stories; mostly known for visual art.  Six dozen covers, two hundred interiors.  Guest of Honor at Swancon 2004, at Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon.  Five Ditmars, two Hugos, one Oscar.  Lindgren Award.  Greenaway Medal.  Here is Lost and Found.  Here is The Arrival.  Here is City of Birds.  Here is Moonfish.  Here is The Bird King.  Here is A Bear and Her Lawyer.  [JH]
  • Born January 15, 1986 – Rosamund Hodge, age 35.  Seven novels, as many shorter stories.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Has read The Yellow WallpaperThe Man Born to Be KingFuenteovejunaAs I Crossed a Bridge of DreamsThe Divine ComedyHide Me Among the Graves, four by Trollope, two by Hambly, one by Heyer (and it’s A Civil Contract, yay).  [JH]
  • Born January 15, 1989  – Kaveh Akbar, Ph.D., age 32.  Two Pushcart Prizes.  Levis Reading Prize.  Zacharis First Book Award.  Medwick Award.  Poetry Editor of The Nation.  Some of his poetry seems ours; anyway, strange.  Here is “The Perfect Poem”.  [JH]
  • Born January 15, 1999 – Arula Ratnakar, age 21.  Two short stories for us, but rather than give you a thousand words I recommend seeing her at Portfolio Lounge.  [JH]

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. It’s time to savor spanakopita with writer/editor Nick Mamatas in Episode 136 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Nick Mamatas

Nick has published fiction in genre publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction and Tor.com, literary journals including New Haven Review and subTERRAIN, and anthologies such as Hint Fiction and Best American Mystery Stories 2013. His fiction and editorial work has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award five times, the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award twice, and the Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, and Locus Awards.

His novels include Under My RoofThe Damned Highway (cowritten with Brian Keene), Love is the LawThe Last Weekend, and I Am Providence, while his fiction has been collected in You Might SleepThe Nickronomicon, most recently, The People’s Republic of Everything. His writing guide Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life has prevented many a beginning writer from, well, starving, and I suspect also convinced a few to seek a different line of work. Upcoming in 2021, Solaris will be publishing his novel The Second Shooter, and The Planetbreakers Son will appear as part of the Outspoken Authors series from PM Press.

We discussed why there’s a generational divide when it comes to what potential readers might think his upcoming novel The Second Shooter is about, our joint Brooklyn heritage and history with professional wrestling, why he threw away the first dozen stories he wrote, the reason Marvel Comics was always better than DC, his encounters with the famed monologuist Brother Theodore, the first bad book he ever read, the way having been a journalist helps him collaborate without killing his co-writers, why work for hire assignments can be difficult, how we feel about our refusal to pick a genre lane, and much more.

(14) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III in Anaheim where Connie Willis was the Toastmaster, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age as published by Bantam Spectra the previous year wins the Hugo for Best Novel. The other nominated novels were The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer, The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also be chosen by Locus as their Best SF Novel of the Year, and garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award as well. It was nominated for a number of other Awards as well. 

(15) VAMOOSING THROUGH THE VACUUM. James Davis Nicoll brings us “Five Thrilling SF Stories About Patrolling Space” at Tor.com.

After a painstaking process that apparently consisted of determining from which movie/comic books they wanted to lift a name, members of the US Space Force have officially been dubbed “Guardians.” Whether this is in reference to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or the interfering blue dome-heads from Green Lantern is unclear. Either way, please enjoy five exciting stories about space patrols patrolling… SPACE!

(16) TOMORROW PRIZE. “Celebrity Guests Read Stellar Sci-Fi by Young Writers” is an online event happening January 16 to raise awareness for The Tomorrow Prize teen sci-fi writing competition. Runs 11:00am – 12:00pm PST. FREE (donation requested). RSVP for the link: B5events.com.

Celebrity guests return to B5 Events for a reading of original sci-fi by young writers! These stories — all finalists of The Tomorrow Prize for short sci-fi competition — are riveting. They’ll make you laugh and they’ll break your heart and you’ll love them all.

The Tomorrow Prize was founded in 2014 to inspire the next generation of sci-fi writing talent and motivate teens to explore today’s pressing issues through the sci-fi lens. The Tomorrow Prize 2021 entry deadline is February 1. 

(17) PLAYING THE LOTTERY. “Home inventor accidentally multiplies cat in New York Lottery ad”Campaign US has the story. Video at the link.

McCann New York’s creative spot dreams up a hilarious invention gone wrong.

New York Lottery brought the laughs in a hilarious new spot featuring an inventor, who unveils a clunky contraption in his garage called “The Multiplier.” His wife tries to get him to play the Lottery X Series scratch off card instead, where he can multiply his winnings. But the man,  enthralled by his invention,  accidentally clones the family cat, Professor Bunsen. Oops.

(18) REFUGE 31. The Faith in Imagination Series is a three-part series being produced by Refuge 31.  The first part, already released, is The Fantasy Makers. The second part is forthcoming, The Science Fiction Makers: Rousseau, Lewis and L’Engle. “This feature documentary examines the unique story of the Christian Science-Fiction sub-genre and three writers that played a role in its emergence.” Diana Pavlac Glyer, one of the scholars interviewed for the documentary, appears in this trailer.

(19) THE GREEN GIRL. That there is a documentary about actress Susan Oliver may be news to you, too, even if it was released in 2014: “The Green Girl Official Trailer (2014)”. She was a qualified commercial jet pilot and a television director as well as an actor. She died of colorectal cancer at age 58.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Times Are Booming for
Archive of Our Own

What else have people to do during the lockdown but read fanfic? Or so it seems. Not only have AO3’s readership numbers gone through the roof, they’ve been able to raise plenty of money to keep the site healthy.

“For a lot of book lovers, rereading old favorites is the only reading they can manage at the moment” says Sarah Wendell in the Washington Post.

Fanfiction sites have also been experiencing a massive surge in traffic during the Quarantimes. Hugo Award-winning site Archive of Our Own announced that it was taking emergency steps to manage server loads with “weekly page views increasing from 262 million to 298 million in just two weeks.” The increase isn’t surprising: Fanfic was already popular, but now it offers the soothing experience of new stories set in recognizable places with characters we already know. A large portion of the cognitive work is already done before you even begin reading.

Here’s this year’s traffic graphed month-by-month. The green line at the top is April.

Archive of Our Own’s administrators reported a surge of donations, too.

The OTW’s April fundraising drive is over, and we are humbled by your incredible generosity. Your donations far surpassed our initial goal of US$130,000, bringing our total to US$458,501 donated by 14,905 people from 96 countries. We are beyond grateful, and as committed as ever to this community that we’re all building together, every single day. We cannot thank you enough for helping our mission and for ensuring that our projects will grow even more in the future.

FOLLOW-UP. Meanwhile, AO3 remains blocked in China, however, the actor at the center of the controversy has made a widely-viewed, though not very specific, apology: Global Times writer Gong Qian has the story — “Chinese actor Xiao Zhan’s apology video goes viral following AO3 controversy”.

A video of an interview with Chinese singer and actor Xiao Zhan has gone viral on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, with many Chinese netizens praising the star for his courage to apologize to the public for the actions of fans who caused overseas fanfic platform Archive of Our Own (AO3) to become blocked in the Chinese mainland back in late February.

In the video released Wednesday on Sina Weibo, Xiao said, “Some time ago, some disputes related to me occurred, and this dispute happened during the key period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I feel very sorry. If those disputes caused some trouble to some people, I want to make an apology to them.” Although the star did not specify what the “disputes” were, many Chinese netizens have surmised that he was referring to the AO3 controversy from three months ago. The video had earned more than 39.15 million views as of Thursday afternoon.

In February, the star and a portion of his fandom became the center of controversy after a group of Xiao’s fans reported overseas fan fiction site AO3 to the Chinese authorities for hosting fan fiction that depict Xiao and his male co-star Wang Yibo from the hit TV drama The Untamed in a same-sex relationship. The fans claimed they reported the site to protect their idol’s reputation being ruined from what they claimed were pornographic stories. The platform, which was extremely popular in the Chinese mainland, became inaccessible soon after, provoking a huge backlash among the public, with some criticizing the fans for damaging artistic freedom.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/20 Let’s Build Robots With Genuine Pixel Personalities, They Said

(1) SPRNG THAW. Book borrowers cheer as Publishers Weekly reports “Macmillan Abandons Library E-book Embargo”.

In a surprise announcement today, Macmillan abandoned its controversial embargo on new release e-books in libraries, effective this week.

“There are times in life when differences should be put aside,” reads a brief memo from Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed to librarians, authors, illustrators, and agents. “Effective on Friday (or whenever thereafter our wholesalers can effect the change), Macmillan will return to the library e-book pricing model that was in effect on October 31st, 2019. In addition, we will be lowering some e-book prices on a short term basis to help expand libraries collections in these difficult times. Stay safe.”

A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed that the removal of the embargo covers all titles, including new release Tor titles (which were technically still under a “test” embargo on October 31, 2019).

The news comes as libraries across the nation are (or soon will be) closing down their physical locations in an attempt to slow the outbreak of Covid-19….

(2) MORE NON-CORONA NEWS. The South China Morning Post has the story: “Xiao Zhan scandal – why millions of Chinese shoppers boycotted Piaget, Cartier and Estée Lauder because of homoerotic idol fan fiction”.

Things escalated quickly after A03’s takedown. Enraged by Xiao fans’ censorship plot, millions of free speech activists began boycotting the dozens of brands Xiao campaigns for, including Estée Lauder, Piaget and Qeelin. But they’ve gone further than the usual boycott by promoting competitors of Xiao-promoted brands, crashing Xiao-sponsored brands’ customer service lines, and pressuring those brands to end their collaborations with Xiao. So far, the Chinese Weibo hashtag #BoycottXiaoZhan has exceeded 3,450,000 posts and 260 million views.

.. But the idol economy has a sinister side. In the Chinese model of idol adoration, fans are the ones in control of the idol’s reputation and commercial worth – not the idol. And since fan communities are so actively involved in their idol’s brand sponsorships, it also falls on them to attack brands that they perceive to be opposing their idol’s interests.

(3) FUN STORY. A wonderful spin on a beleaguered classic: Cora Buhlert’s “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign” begins –

Save the Girl and Save Me From Having to Toss Her Out of the Airlock

Organised by Captain C. Barton

Started on August 4, 2178, 08:48     Category: Accidents and emergencies

My name is Barton and I’m the pilot of an EDS (Emergency Dispatch Ship) currently en route to the frontier world of Woden to deliver some desperately needed medical supplies.

I have a problem, because I just discovered a stowaway aboard my ship, an eighteen-year-old girl named Marilyn Lee Cross. Upon questioning, Marilyn explained that her brother Gerry works on Woden as part of the government survey crew. She wants to visit him and since there is no regular passenger traffic to Woden because of the current medical crisis, she snuck aboard my ship…..

(4) WINDY CITY PULP CON POSTPONED. Chicago’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, originally set for next month, has been rescheduled to September 11-13.

On March 16, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker mandated that social gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled for the next eight weeks.  Given other recent developments in the Covid-19 crisis, we anticipated that some sort of ban might be imposed that would make it impossible to hold our convention at its scheduled time in April, 2020.  Out of concern for the health of our extended family of attendees, dealers and staff, for the past week we had been working with our hotel — the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois — to attempt to reschedule our convention.  

We can now announce that we’ve just reached an agreement to postpone the convention to September 11-13, 2020. The location of the convention remains the same, and we thank the fine folks at the Westin Lombard for working with us to make this change….

More information about memberships and hotel reservations at the link.

(5) EDGAR AWARDS. Mystery Writers of America have cancelled the Edgar Awards event planned for April 30: “Edgar Week Events – Update”. How the awards will be announced is under discussion.

It is with heavy heart that we have to let you know we are cancelling both the Edgar Awards banquet and the symposium.

All bars and restaurants have been closed in New York City due to the pandemic (other than for delivery and pick-up), and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement on Sunday urging people to cancel or postpone all events bringing together 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, including weddings. “Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said on their website. “Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies.

This year is the 75th anniversary of MWA; our Edgar week festivities were to be a celebration of that anniversary.

But the health, safety, and well-being of our nominees, guests, members and the hotel staff have to be paramount, and it is not in anyone’s best interest that we go forward with the festivities.

(6) LEPRECON LOSES GOH. At the moment LepreCon 46 is still scheduled for April 10-12 in Chandler, Arizona, however, one of their guests of honor has stepped down. A decision about the con’s future is coming this week.

LepreCon has had some participant cancellations, most notably our Author Guest of Honor, Robert McCammon, who lives in Alabama. He stated: “I’ve gone back and forth on this, and back and forth again, and unfortunately I feel the need to cancel my appearance at LepreCon. I hate to do this because I’d been looking forward to the con and also because never before in my life have I said I would be somewhere and not shown up… but in all honesty I just don’t feel confident in traveling right now and am uncertain of what another month may bring.”

We are restricted in our decision to postpone or cancel Leprecon 46 by our contract with the hotel. We must work in conjunction with them to come up with a solution, since Governor Ducey & ADHS haven’t yet prohibited all public gatherings. We will speak with them Monday to begin the process of determining whether the convention can be postponed or canceled. A decision will be announced by the end of the week.

(7) NO LAST DANCE IN LOUISVILLE. It was going to be the last con in a series that started a decade ago, but now ConGlomeration won’t be taking place. The Louisville, Kentucky fan event was planned for April 10-12.

All good things, as they say, must come to an end. And so it comes to ConGlomeration.

In accordance with current COVID-19 safety recommendations, as well as local, state, and federal mandates, and to ensure the health and well-being of our membership, the Convention Committee has elected to cancel our final ConGlomeration

For those asking why we are cancelling, rather than merely postponing, we simply have no idea if or when a suitable replacement date and venue would become available. We cannot hold our guests, staff, or resources in limbo for an indeterminate amount of time. And, as this was our final convention, we have no “next year” to simply “roll over” this year’s plans and people into.

So, rather than “see you later,” we must instead say “goodbye.”

(8) COMIC RELIEF. Courtesy of George Takei.

(9) BACK TO THE BAD NEWS. Mark George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema closed, too. The Santa Fe, NM theater posted this “Important Announcement”.

To our Jean Cocteau & Beastly Books Supporters:

We like to keep our community as informed as we can. We regret to say that we have decided to close the Jean Cocteau Cinema for a month starting 03/17 and hope to reopen on 04/15. TBD. The Jean Cocteau Cinema is fortunate enough to continue to pay our employees for the interim….

(10) LIBRARIANS’ DAY RECALENDARED. Horror Writers of America have moved HWA Librarians’ Day to November 12, 2020. The Naperville, IL event is another casualty of coronavirus restrictions.

(11) WHITMAN OBIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Actor Stuart Whitman has died at the age of 92. Whitman was probably best known for his work in action, war, and western films, but did have some genre roles, the first being an uncredited appearance in When Worlds Collide (1951).

Perhaps most notable were 10 episodes as Jonathan Kent scattered across 4 seasons of the 80s/90s TV series Superboy Other genre and adjacent TV work included seven episodes of Fantasy Island (as different characters), plus episodes on more than a half-dozen other shows including Night Gallery and Tales from the Dark Side

He appeared in sf and horror movies such as Omega Cop, Deadly Intruder, Vultures, Invaders of the Lost Gold, The Monster Club, Demonoid, The Cat Creature, and City Beneath the Sea.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. She’s readily available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and in particular attacking Jewish financial speculators. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tania Lemani, 75. She played Kara in the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. She first met Shatner when she was offered her a role in the pilot for Alexander the Great which starred him in the title role (although the pilot failed to be picked up as a series). She had parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Bionic Woman and she shows up in the fanfic video Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. I assume as Kara, though IMDb lists her as herself. 
  • Born March 17, 1947 James K. Morrow, 73. I’m very fond of the Godhead trilogy in which God is Dead and very, very present. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a lot of satisfying satirical fun as is The Madonna and the Starship which is also is a wonderful homage to pulp writers.
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 72. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. The works I struggled with are Pattern RecognitionSpook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were appealing. Eh? 
  • Born March 17, 1949 Patrick Duffy, 71. Surely you’ve seen him on Man from Atlantis? No?  Oh, you missed a strange, short-lived show. His other genre credits are a delightfully mixed bag of such things as voicing a Goat on Alice in Wonderland, appearing on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne as Duke Angelo Rimini  in the “Rockets of the Dead” episode and voicing  Steve Trevor in the incredibly excellent “The Savage Time” three-parter on Justice League
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 69. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course, there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • About today’s Wallace the Brave Rich Horton commented, “I’m just surprised he didn’t wear a propeller beanie!”

(14) BEYOND 404. Bleeding Cool tells about a new comedy that’s on the way — “’Upload’: Your Afterlife Depends on Your Wi-Fi Strength in Greg Daniels’ Upcoming Amazon Prime Comedy Series”.

If we’re reading things correctly, Greg Daniels‘ (The Office, Space Force) new comedy series Upload for Amazon Prime Video makes the case that the future of your afterlife may depend on how strong your Wi-Fi signal is. At least that’s the premise vibe were getting from the 10-episode series, which includes an ensemble cast fronted by The Flash alum Robbie Amell and Andy Allo (Pitch Perfect 3, The Hero) and a debut date of May 1 for the streaming service….

(15) SPACE COLLECTIBLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Kickstarter: “DeskSpace: Lunar Surface“. Inspired by the Apollo 11 lunar landing, this Kickstarter project is selling a detailed replica landscape of part of the Moon’s surface. 

Made from “jewelry grade concrete,“ they plan to make it available in two sizes — roughly 7” (180 mm) square & roughly 4“ (100 mm) square. Introductory pledge levels – which are about to run out – are about 75 & 99 US dollars respectively. (Actual pledges appear to be in HK$.)

For a bit more, they’ll sell you the entire solar system.

(16) POMP AND MINECRAFT CIRCUMSTANCES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SoraNews24: “Japanese students hold graduation ceremony in Minecraft amid school cancellation”. Tagline: “As usual, kids are way ahead of adults.”

Japanese schools have been closed for over two weeks now due to coronavirus quarantine, and they will remain closed until after spring vacation.

Because the Japanese school year ends in March and begins in April, for many students this closing period means that they will miss their graduation ceremonies. Whether they’re leaving elementary school, middle school, or high school, it’s a sad feeling for them to go out with a whimper instead of a bang.

But some creative elementary school graduates in Japan came up with a great workaround. If they couldn’t have a graduation ceremony at school, then why not have one digitally in a place they all meet often anyway… in Minecraft!

(17) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CRITTER. At Dogpatch Press, Patch O’Furr has an animal-centric post about the plague, with a side order of furry con fraud. “Good news! Doggos won’t make you vom-o — and more to know about a zoonotic pandemic.”

Need something wholesome for a time like this?  Investigation found no reason to fear that people might catch COVID-19 from dogs. That’s good for me and my chihuahua child. No more worry about going “aww” for little sneezes!

(18) COMBAT NEWS AFFECTED DISORDER. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is running a “March Sadness Special” which includes the offer of a couple free books to people signing up for a newsletter.

The last week has been…well, a year in stress and changes and everything else. I’ve been blogging about it to help people through the changes. Those blogs are currently on Patreon, but will hit here, starting tomorrow night.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that people worldwide are staying home. Inside. With computers and streaming and books to keep them occupied.

Last week, Allyson of WMG, Dean, and I discussed a way to provide weekly content to readers and writers. The Stay At Home And Chill Newsletter will tell you about deals and discounts...and if you sign up now, you’ll get two free books to help you relax through this crisis.

[Thanks to Doug Ellis, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Camestros Felapton, Brian Z., Patch O’Furr, Dann, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 3/3/20 And Was The Corny Cry Of ‘Fifth’ On The File’s Pleasant Comments Seen?

(1) NEW HORROR “RADIO NETWORK.” Brian Keene announced yesterday on Facebook that The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network, which will also include Defenders Dialogue, Cosmic Shenanigans, and Grindcast. From the statement, it looks like the split from Shelly and Armand Rosamilia is amicable.  They are all still friends.

The Horror Show with Brian Keene started out on the Project iRadio Network. During our second year, we became part of the Project Entertainment Network.

Beginning April 1, (in the midst of our sixth year on the air) The Horror Show with Brian Keene will become the flagship podcast for the new Brian Keene Radio Network,…

Listeners will not be impacted by this change. You’ll still be able to hear episodes of each podcast for free via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Google Play Music, and all other platforms. You’ll also be able to hear them for free on a new 24/7 live-streaming venture (a rebooted and revamped Brian Keene Radio) beginning in April. Old shows will still be accessible, as well. You may notice some changes to the structure of each show — new theme music, new title cards, advertising presented in a different way — but otherwise, it’s business as usual….

(2) DEAR JEFF BEZOS. While Amanda S. Green had some unfortunate problems uploading her new book via Kindle Digital Publishing, thereby missing a deadline and forfeiting pre-orders, she got a hell of a good post out of it for Mad Genius Club: “Not How I Expected Today To Go”. A lot to learn here.

…Lesson #1: Check the Terms of Service on a regular basis.

Amazon has updated the Terms of Service and did so on Feb. 20, 2020. How many of you have read them since then to see if there are any changes you need to be aware of? I hadn’t–at that point. I guarantee you I have since then.

…In the meantime, I have set a recurring alarm on my phone’s calendar to remind me to check the ToS every month. Yes, I’m being obsessive about it. But I am convinced the fact I knew what the ToS said and could prove it was at odds with the FAQs helped me plead my case and get my pre-order privileges restored. (As did being professional in my dealings with Amazon).

This writer will not be the unhappy writer on what should be release day ever again.

Fingers crossed.

(3) ONWARD. Vanity Fair fills readers in about “The Heartbreaking True Story Behind Pixar’s Onward”. Tagline: “A lost father. A found tape. A voice a filmmaker thought he would never hear.”

Dan Scanlon didn’t have a sad childhood; he just grew up with a hole in it.

It was in the shape of his father, who died in 1977 when Scanlon was only one year old. Neither he nor his brother, who is about three years older, remember their dad. They tried to construct some sense of him from pictures, from stories, from glimpses of the few soundless reel-to-reel home movies they had.

That’s what inspired Scanlon, a veteran Pixar creative team member and director of Monsters University, to pitch the idea for Onward, an animated fantasy about two brothers who do the same. These siblings—younger, shy Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and older, boisterous Barley (Chris Pratt)—are blue-skinned, pointy-eared elves in a suburban sword-and-sorcery world who harness magic to bring their late father back for one single day together. 

(4) LONDON CALLING, FEWER ANSWERING. Coronavirus is taking its toll of book events. Publishers Lunch asserts “Reed Is Holding the London Book Fair, Dubbed ‘The Nightmare of Epidemiologists,’ without All of You”

The UK government is not ready to ban public events of scale yet, and Reed Exhibitions is apparently not ready to face the costs of a voluntary cancellation and continues to vow that the London Book Fair will proceed next week. The show is an increasing outlier, with the big Leipzig Book Fair canceling next week’s show.

More companies have announced that they will skip the fair and protect their employees, now including a number of UK-based companies and divisions. Penguin Random House, which officially had only made the show optional for US employees — most of whom opted out — has followed other large trade publishers in withdrawing entirely. Their spokesperson said, “The London Book Fair is an important moment in the global publishing calendar but given the fast moving situation around the Coronavirus, Penguin Random House has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from the fair in the interest of the health and wellbeing of our employees, authors, and partners.”

The post continues for another couple of paragraphs naming businesses that have pulled out of the London event. Nevertheless, Publishers Weekly says “London Book Fair Will Still Go Ahead”.

(5) CALL FOR ARTICLES. Steven H Silver will be co-editing an issue of Journey Planet and would like contributions that fit in with its theme —

I don’t believe in the supernatural, but when I was walking amongst the ruins of Kenilworth Castle back in 1984, I had the feeling that if ghosts existed, I was about to meet one.

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not much for wandering around outdoors. Allergies have had a tendency to make me favor climate controlled areas, so it came as a huge surprise to Elaine when we saw Thingvellir in Iceland that I commented “I want to come back here and spend three or four days hiking and camping.”

While it is true that travel broadens the mind, it is also true that it opens us up to the magic of the world around us. This year, I’ll be co-editing an issue of the Hugo Award wining fanzine Journey Planet with James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia that looks at “the most magical place you’ve visited.”

We’re leaving it up to the authors and artists whose work will appear in this issue to define what “most magical” means in this context. It could be a place that took your breath away, a place that actually made you believe that magic or ghosts or the supernatural existed, a place that has significant meaning for you, or something else entirely.

Artwork and photos based on the same prompt are also very welcome.

If you are interested in participating, please drop me an e-mail at shsilver@sfsite.com and we can discuss appropriate topics and article length.

The deadline is June 20.

(6) AO3/CHINA UPDATE. Two English-language publications that focus on China have news stories from their perspective.

South China Morning Post: “Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s biggest fanfiction sites, blocked in China amid new censorship rules”

…Outraged internet users took to social media Weibo to voice their anger, accusing Xiao’s fans of being compliant in China’s censorship machine.

“China has succeeded in getting people accustomed to self-censorship in the past decade, and in using public power to eliminate those with different opinions. The idea has been deeply rooted in everyone’s head,” Weibo user Frunzzi wrote in one of the most popular comments.

Another user with the handle ChaofanDouxiansen wrote: “Why would you hurt the already limited space for creation? Shame on you.”

Also, Radii reported: “A03 Fanfiction Drama Sparks High-Stakes War of Boys’ Love Fandom”

…Some Sean Xiao fans went so far as to organize a coordinated assault against the website, posting a message that encouraged others to report AO3 and LOFTER (China’s equivalent of Tumblr) for unlawful and homoerotic content.

Unfortunately, it seems that the spiteful act has yielded results. AO3 is now blocked in China, leaving a massive base of displaced fanfiction authors and readers. In turn, that community has started to launch similar attacks against Xiao’s fanbase.

The whole thing is a huge and unnecessary mess, and the fan who organized the assault has admitted to working with Sean Xiao’s management team in order to control the situation on Weibo.

(7) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Daniel Braum and Robert Levy on Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.)

Daniel Braum

Daniel Braum is the author of the short story collections The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales, The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic and the Dim Shores Press chapbook Yeti Tiger Dragon. His third collection, Underworld Dreams is forthcoming from Lethe Press in 2020. The Serpent’s Shadow, his first novel, was released from Cemetery Dance eBooks in 2019. He is the editor of the Spirits Unwrapped anthology from Lethe Press.

Robert Levy

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, while shorter work has appeared in Black Static, Shadows & Tall Trees, The Dark, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, and more. Anaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol, a speculative novella written in the style of the literary icon’s legendary diaries, was released in October by Lethe Press.

(8) LUNNEY OBIT. Fanzine fan Frank Lunney died February 28 due to a coronary event. Early on, Lunney’s Beabohema was competitive with the very best sercon zines of its day, gaining a Best Fanzine Hugo nomination in 1970 when it shared the ballot with Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review, Charlie Brown’s Locus, Leland Sapiro’s Riverside Quarterly, and Peter Weston’s Speculation. Wikipedia says his contributors included “a then-obscure fan named ‘Gene Klein’ who would later become famous as Gene Simmons of KISS.”

In the early Seventies he switched over to publishing Syndrome, the reasons for which he explained in an interview published by Dan Steffan and Ted White in Blat! (See the full text here.)

…But the real thig that made me decide to change was being at the Boston woldcon in 1971 with the Katzes and the Kunkels. They had some hashish that made me hallucinate. (laughs) And they loaned me A Sense of FAPA with Ah! Sweet Idiocy in it, and I read and I realized that not writing about science fiction was a lot more interesting than being concerned with science fiction at all….

Although he considered what he was doing before to be fannish, from that point on other fans also identified his output as fannish. Or even faannish. In later years he would often attend Corflu. Indeed, Lunney is credited with originating the Corflu practice of paying $20 to have one’s name removed from the choosing hat, taking away any risk of being drafted to give a GoH speech at the Sunday banquet.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 3, 1965 Mutiny in Outer Space premiered. It was, produced, directed and written by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (although the latter was not credited as directing). It starred William Leslie, Dolores Faith, Pamela Curran and Richard Garland. The word “meh” would best sum up the reaction critics at the time had to this film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes so you’ll need to watch it and see what you think of it.
  • March 3, 1965 The Human Duplicators premiered. It was produced and directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (without a credit for the latter as director). The film stars George Nader, Barbara Nichols, George Macready and Dolores Faith. It was the color feature on a double bill with the black-and-white Mutiny in Outer Space. It wasn’t well received by critics, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 gave it their usual treatment. It currently holds a zero percent audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which in played Phillip Bainbridge, during the first season of Trek.  Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. ISFDB notes that he did three genre novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1924 Catherine Downs. She’s in four Fifties grade B SF films: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The She Creature, The Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon. All but the first film was the subject of a MST3K show. (Died 1976.)
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 84. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating.
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 75. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road WarriorMad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1977 Sarah Smart, 43. She’s Jennifer in the two part Eleventh Doctor story, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”. She’s Magda Cribden on The Secret of Crickley Hall, and played Carl Gruff in the “Billy Goat” episode of the Fairy Tale series. 
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel,  38. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: Trinity, StealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.
  • Born March 3, 1980 Katherine Waterston, 40. She’s Tina Goldstein in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which she reprised in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And she was Janet “Danny” Daniels in Alien: Covenant. Finally I’ll note that she was Chrisann Brennan in the Steve Jobs film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FOWL TRAILER. Artemis Fowl hits U.S. theaters May 29.

Disney’s “Artemis Fowl,” based on the beloved book by Eoin Colfer, is a fantastical, spellbinding adventure that follows the journey of 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he seeks to find his father who has mysteriously disappeared. With the help of his loyal protector Butler, Artemis sets out to find him, and in doing so uncovers an ancient, underground civilization—the amazingly advanced world of fairies. Deducing that his father’s disappearance is somehow connected to the secretive, reclusive fairy world, cunning Artemis concocts a dangerous plan—so dangerous that he ultimately finds himself in a perilous war of wits with the all-powerful fairies.

(13) REALISM. In “How To Write Believable, Realistic, and Responsible Violence” on CrimeReads, Ed Ruggero offers seven tips for making violent scenes in fiction plausible.

1. People have strong reactions to violence.

Here is retired Marine Randy Hoffman describing combat to young men and women in training. “Your heart rate is uncontrollable,” he tells them. “Your pulse goes up so much that your ears kind of stop up. Everything goes kind of in slow motion. Your brain focuses on minute details to help you get through engaging the enemy before he can kill you.” [Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019]

There are also delayed physiological effects. Here is the late Paul Russell, a combat medic in Vietnam, describing his reaction after he crawled under incoming fire to rescue wounded GIs, an action for which he would be awarded the Silver Star. “I threw my guts up all the next day. Adrenaline.”

(14) PRESSING ON. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is full of good news about their affiliated venture, Journey Press. He begins the “State of the Press, March 2020 edition” with news that their flagship release, Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963), is in over 300 bookstores (besides being available as an ebook.) Here’s what else they have coming up —

Old Masters sign on with Journey Press

It is our great honor and privilege to announce that Journey Press will be working with Hugo Finalist and SF veteran Tom Purdom to bring back his classic, I Want the Stars. We chose to bring back this particular book for several reasons. For one, it is a timeless work, with a unique vision of the human condition nearly a thousand years from now. For another, it may well be the first science fiction novel ever to explicitly star a Black man. That’s unusual for today, forget 1964. Finally, it’s just a great book. It comes out in June.

Also, we are bowled over with delight to announce our collaboration with Robin Brown, son of the late, great Rosel George Brown. Ms. Brown was one of science fiction’s brightest lights from the mid ’50s until her untimely death in 1967 (two of her best stories are in Rediscovery). Just before she passed away, she wrote Sibyl Sue Blue, the novel that features the first galactic woman space cop. If ever there were a genre we need to have more books in, it’s that one!

Look for Sibyl Sue Blue next year, timed to coincide with coverage of the book at Galactic Journey.

New Talent on the Horizon

In less than two weeks, we will be releasing Kitra, our first work of new fiction. It’s already gotten some great advance reviews, and we think it’ll be a hit. Well, we hope so: there are nine more planned books in the series! Don’t worry, though. Kitra stands alone.

We’re particularly excited about this release, not only because it’s a revival of the space adventure yarns of the mid-20th Century (think Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton), but it also features illustrations by the talented Lorelei E. Marcus. Last, but certainly not least, Kitra has a queer woman of color as its protagonist — again, something we think there should be more of!

(15) WATERWORLD IS REAL. Or at least it Was. Maybe. According to Futurism com: ”Scientists Say Ancient Earth Was Completely Covered In Water”.

Scientists at Iowa State and the University of Colorado say they’ve found compelling new evidence that the ancient Earth was an unbroken expanse of water, without a single continent. Yes: “Waterworld.”

The research, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, examined ancient samples of sea floor found in Australia and found chemical clues that Earth used to be a completely blue planet — a discovery, the scientists say, that could have deep implications for the history of life itself.

(16) GAME TECH. “Half-Life: Alyx – Hands on with Valve’s virtual reality game-changer”, a BBC video.

In 1998, Half Life changed first-person shooters forever.

It combined cinematic storytelling, taut and tense combat and extra-dimensional bad guys.

A successful sequel followed, but it’s been nearly 13 years since the last release.

Now the series has returned in the form of a virtual reality title.

BBC Click’s Marc Cieslak was one of the first people in the world to play it, and he suggests it could be VR’s first killer app.

(17) PLOT POINT. “Mulan: Disney drop character following #MeToo movement” – BBC has the story.

A Disney producer says the character Li Shang is missing from the live-action remake of Mulan, as his storyline is not “appropriate” in the #MeToo era.

The film tells of a woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in place of her father in China’s imperial army.

In the 1998 animated original, based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, General Li Shang developed a bond with Mulan’s male warrior alter-ego Ping.

After her true identity was revealed, she and Li Shang have dinner together.

Given recent revelations in Hollywood, however, producer Jason Reed confirmed they were uncomfortable with the power dynamics in their relationship.

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed told Collider.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

AO3 Blocked in China

On March 1, 2020, Archive of Our Own was blocked in China.

AO3 tweeted:

Their Weibo message is:

[Google Translate:] In the past few hours, we have received many enquiries about users in mainland China not being able to access archiveofourown.org. Some users also said that they can access AO3 using the website ao3.org. We are troubleshooting with our volunteers. For the time being, it seems to be due to the disconnection of the supplier (China Unicom, Telecom, etc.) when connecting the local network to the overseas network. We don’t know if this is due to a brief unplanned outage of supplier services or a long-term access restriction. Since this connection problem was not caused by the AO3 server, we have no way to solve this problem. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Although, as of this writing, the Wikipedia entry about AO3 attributes the blocking “to the critics of Xiao Zhan against the website fanfic writers who wrote about him,” Aja Romano’s Vox report says the timing of that kerfuffle is just coincidental, and the real reason is the effective date of China’s new internet rules: “China has censored the Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s largest fanfiction websites”.

…The news immediately spawned unverified rumors that one of China’s biggest recent fandoms had inspired the ban. The Untamed is an internationally popular 2019 Chinese web series based on a queer romance novel originally published online. And there are more than 14,000 fanfics related to The Untamed on AO3. The rumors, which surfaced from within the Chinese internet, involved the large adjacent fandom for The Untamed’s main actor, Xiao Zhan, and focused on unsubstantiated reports of a harassment campaign launched by critics of Xiao Zhan against AO3 fanfic writers who wrote about him.

The Untamed premiered on Netflix in October and has only grown its following since then, while Xiao Zhan has become a huge celebrity since the show’s release. So the idea that fanfiction about the actor had led to the reported censorship of AO3 within China brought widespread alarm, finger-pointing, and outcry, with fans issuing calls to “protect Xiao Zhan” from further harassment. On March 1, after a day of online outrage, Xiao’s studio reportedly issued a public apology for “occupying public resources.”

But although the rumors wreaked havoc within The Untamed’s fandom (amid simultaneous attempts to halt the spread of misinformation) it seems very likely that the timing was purely coincidental. It’s more likely that AO3 became a target of China’s ongoing attempts to suppress queer and explicit media content, as a part of its larger dedicated pattern of internet censorship.

As Variety reported in January (“China’s New Internet Censorship Rules Outline Direction For Content”) –

Chinese authorities have approved a new set of comprehensive regulations that expand the scope of online censorship, emphasize the war against “negative” content and make platforms more liable for content violations.

While China previously had numerous, separate regulations floating about for everything from live-streaming to news media to chat groups, the new “Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem” consolidate them into a more coherent system of global rules for everything that happens on the country’s Internet. The new rules were approved in mid-December and will take effect in March.

Variety has a complete overview of the rules. This is the part AO3 seems most likely to have run afoul of —

… The new regulations then go on to dictate that content producers must “employ measures to prevent and resist the making, reproduction or publication of negative information.” This includes the following: the “use of exaggerated titles,” gossip, “improper comments on natural disasters, major accidents, or other disasters,” anything with “sexual innuendo” or that is “readily associated with sex,” gore or horror, or things that would push minors towards behaviors that are unsafe or “violate social mores.” Negative content, it concludes broadly, is actually just anything at all that would have a “negative impact” on the Internet ecosystem.

Romano also told Vox readers the latest development may have been inevitable:

Then again, it’s likely that AO3 would have been censored with or without the new law taking effect, because China has in recent years been cracking down on queer and sexually explicit online content — both of which AO3 has in abundance.

The Meaning of It All

The Hugo Awards official website has made a fresh attempt to interpret the meaning of Archive of Our Own’s 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work and how individual participants ought to identify with it. However, the December 18 statement “2019 Hugo Awards Clarification” does not explain what need it’s supposed to meet or why it was issued at this time. In response, a number of fans have filled in the blanks with the worst motives they can conceive.  

The “2019 Hugo Awards Clarification” post says —

We would like to clarify that the winner of the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work is Archive Of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works.

This category of the Hugo Awards is one which recognizes works that are non-fiction or which are notable primarily for aspects other than fiction. Thus, the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work recognizes AO3 as a project and a platform; the fiction hosted on that site is not the award recipient, nor are the authors of fiction hosted on that site the award recipients.

Further, the only officially recognized 2019 Hugo Award Winner for Best Related Work is Archive Of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works. No natural persons can claim to be a Hugo Award Winner, Finalist, or Nominee for this award on behalf of AO3.

Individual works of fiction on AO3 are eligible for the Hugo Awards in the fiction categories of the corresponding length, for the award year in which they are first published. In addition, the Hugo Awards have Fan Writer, Fan Artist, Fanzine, and Fancast categories which recognize contributions that fans give freely to fandom.

Members of AO3 are welcome and encouraged to promote themselves as “participant in the Hugo Award-Winning project Archive Of Our Own” or “contributor to the Hugo Award-Winning AO3 website”.

The Hugo Awards site is created and managed by the Hugo Awards Marketing Subcommittee of the World Science Fiction Society Mark Protection Committee, who are responsible for the statement.

Renay, of this year’s Hugo-winning fanzine Lady Business, characterized the statement as an anonymous attack calculated to discourage AO3 participants from joining CoNZealand and becoming eligible to vote in the 2020 Hugos.

Many dissenting tweets have been appended to The Hugo Awards’ own tweeted link to the statement.

And here is a a sampling of related comments.

Also, Forestofglory, who wrote a post “Why I Like Taking Part in the Hugo Awards” a few weeks ago, tweeted the link again as part of the latest discussion. It begins —

Since Archive of Our Own (AO3) recently won a Hugo, and Lady Business the fanzine I write for also won its second Hugo I wanted to talk a bit about the Hugos and why I like taking part in them. I’ve been nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards for a while now and have had a really positive experience, of the Hugos as a fun communal event where a lot of people I like talk about media they like. I also enjoy the way the awards process lets me and others share and receive recs, and celebrate the SFF community….

The Hugo Awards are trademarked by the World Science Fiction Society (“WSFS”). A mark must be enforced against violators who come within notice of the holder in order to remain effective. The Mark Protection Committee’s report to the Dublin 2019 business meeting contended that they already had to take action against someone selling a pin on Etsy:

Also in June, we were notified of a violation of our rocket trademark by a group marketing a pin to content creators on the website, Archive of Our Own. While the website itself was a finalist for a Hugo Award this year, the individual content creators are not finalists in the same way that authors edited by Best Editor are not considered finalists. The main issue, however, was that the seller used our marks and created a derivative work of our rocket shape without our permission. The right to control derivative works is one of the rights and responsibilities of a mark holder, and the seller transformed our rocket ship mark without permission. We informed the Dublin 2019 Worldcon committee of this issue because even issuing a cease-and-desist order might create a ruckus for the Worldcon among fans who are legitimately excited and happy to celebrate that AO3 is a Hugo finalist for the first time. Dublin 2019 declined to issue any guidance. If the creator withdrew this merchandise and created other material, we would then react to that based on the new merchandise. The MPC determined that it was important enough to protect our mark that it sent a cease-and-desist letter asking them to withdraw the design. We also pointed out that Worldcons issue their own pins to legitimate Hugo finalists. Toward the end of June, after getting no response from the seller, we filed an intellectual property infringement claim with Etsy, citing both the U.S. and EU registrations. Within days, Etsy had removed the item from their site.

The members of the Mark Protection Committee (“MPC”) at the time of the business meeting were Judy Bemis, Stephen Boucher, John Coxon, Joni Dashoff, Linda Deneroff, Paul Dormer, Donald E. Eastlake III, Michael Lee, Tim Illingworth, Dave McCarty, Randall Shepherd, Kevin Standlee, Mike Willmoth, and Ben Yalow. Three seats came up for election and two of the incumbents were returned, with Tim Illingworth being superseded by Jo Van Ekeren. So with one exception the membership remains the same as it was in Dublin.

Although the new statement appears gratuitous to some and pedantic to others, a likelier motive is to lay a foundation for WSFS to do something about trademark violations without going straight to court, which it lacks the budget to do. Consider what Kevin Standlee, who chaired the Mark Protection Committee until Dublin 2019, wrote on his blog on November 4:

If you are someone who insisted that nobody would ever make commercial or professional use of the Hugo Award registered service mark to claim that they were individually and personally Hugo Award winners on account of having contributed to An Archive of Our Own, you are flat-our wrong. It’s happening, and I’m not talking about “jokes” or “one-two-millionth of a Hugo Award winner” statements. The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is doing what it can about such things. Despite what some people seem to think, the first step in such cases is almost never LAWYER UP and FILE A LAWSUIT. But it uses up resources that are rather limited. I wish we didn’t have to do so. I wish that I hadn’t been right about people doing what I predicted they would do.

However, waving the threat of litigation at a group of fans collectively, almost none of whom started out with any desire to violate the trademarks, will not only offend many of them, it runs the risk of inciting people who feel unjustly persecuted to act out in precisely that way.

Pixel Scroll 11/5/19 The Void Pixel’s Tale

(1) 2019 WORLD FANTASY AWARDS PHOTO. Lee Whiteside took this picture of the winners and accepters at Sunday’s World Fantasy Awards ceremony.

Left to right: Kathleen Jennings (accepting for Best Novella winner Kij Johnson), Emma Törzs (Best Short Fiction co-winner as well as accepting for co-winner Mel Kassel), C. L. Polk (Best Novel), Tobias S. Buckell (Best Collection with Paolo Bacigalupi), Reiko Murakami (accepting for Best Artist winner Rovina Cai), Irene Gallo (Best Anthology) and Rajan Khanna (accepting for Scott H. Andrews, Special Award – Nonprofessional)

(2) WATCHMEN PODCAST. ScienceFiction.com alerts listeners when “HBO Launches ‘The Official Watchmen Podcast’”.

The Official Watchmen Podcast launches after the third episode of the series airs on November 3rd. Over three episodes, host Craig Mazin (HBO and Sky’s Chernobyl) discusses Watchmen with its Executive Producer and Writer, Damon Lindelof. Join Mazin and Lindelof as they divulge narrative choices, explore the show’s connection with the groundbreaking graphic novel, and how it reflects our modern times. Make sure to watch episodes one through three of Watchmen before listening. The Official Watchmen Podcast is produced by HBO in conjunction with Pineapple Street Studios.

(3) MAKE ROOM. If Marie Kondo didn’t get you started decluttering, maybe this post by Wil Wheaton will do it: “The Purge”. This excerpt is followed by a moving account of the emotional work he went through in the process.

…As I was cleaning up my emotional baggage, working on strategies to protect myself from my abusers, and practicing mindfulness daily, I realized that I had a ton of STUFF just sitting around my house, cluttering up my physical living space the way my emotional trauma and pain was cluttering up my emotional space. So I made a call, and hired a professional organizer to come to my house, go through all my bullshit with me, and help me get rid of all the things I didn’t need any more.

This process was, in many ways, a metaphor.

We spent several days going through my closets, my game room, my storage spaces in my attic and shed, and eventually ended up with FIVE TRUCKLOADS of stuff I didn’t need. Most of it was clothes and books and things that we donated to shelters, which was really easy to unload. I acquire T-shirts so much, I regularly go through my wardrobe and unload half of what I have, so it’s easy to get rid of stuff without any emotional attachments.

But there were some things that were more difficult to get rid of, things that represented opportunities I once had but didn’t pursue, things that represented ideas that I was really into for a minute, but didn’t see through to completion, things that seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t really fit into my life, etc….

(4) AO3 TO THE RESCUE. Yahoo! will be closing downYahoo! Groups – at least as people are used to it — for good on December 14, by which point all uploaded content will be lost: “Yahoo is shuttering Yahoo Groups. Fandom will never be the same”.

The death of Yahoo Groups is a particular blow to text-based fan communities, which thrived on the platform in the 2000s. Yahoo message boards and email lists were crucial to the early days of fandom, both as a publishing platform and as a semi-private meeting place in the days before social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. Yahoo Groups were particularly integral to Harry Potter and English-language anime fandoms, overlapping with the rise of Livejournal in the early 2000s. These fannish mailing lists were home to reams of fanfiction and in-depth commentary on pop culture, and spawned lifelong friendships (and, OK, the occasional deathly feud) within their communities.

AO3 has offered sanctuary to fanworks that are at risk because of the Yahoo Groups shutdown:

We have two processes in place — one to move fanworks from Yahoo Groups onto the Archive Of Our Own, and one to download and preserve messages and other content from Yahoo Groups in file systems so moderators and Yahoo Groups users have more than nine weeks to figure out how to preserve and possibly share that content.

Open Doors can only import fanworks archived in Yahoo Groups onto the Archive of Our Own with the consent of the moderator(s). If you are a moderator and would like to import fanworks from your Yahoo Group(s) to AO3, you are welcome to contact Open Doors via our contact form.

…If you’re a moderator who’d like to potentially import your group to the AO3, contact Open Doors and we’ll talk to you about options. For more updates on what’s happening, see announcements or check back on this page.

If you’d like to directly help rescue teams and you want to save only fandom groups, you can use this form to nominate fandom groups OR you can go directly to the public spreadsheet to find nominated groups that still need downloading. (General downloading instructions are here.) If you want to help save fandom groups and many other non-fandom groups, see Archive Team’s chrome extension. Both are worthy efforts and both face a hard deadline of Dec 14.

(5) CONZEALAND MINORS POLICY. Here are some features of CoNZealand’s “Minors Onsite Policy” for the 2020 Wordcon,

A minor is anyone under the age of 18. In New Zealand, the law requires that no minor under the age of 14 be left unattended. …

Overall Policy 

All Kid-in-tow and Child memberships must be tied to an adult membership. All minors under 16 should have a sticker on the back of their badge detailing up to two adults (over 18) who are responsible for them.  

Due to the nature of licensing and regulation in regards to child care in New Zealand, it will not be possible for us to provide child care at CoNZealand. Please refer to the links to nanny and babysitting services at the end of this document.

Memberships

There are three types of memberships for minors at CoNZealand:

  1. Kid-in-tow (no charge)—born in or after 2015 (generally 5 and under)
  2. Child ($105)—born in or after 2005 (generally 5-15)
  3. Young Adult ($250)—born in or after 2000 (generally 15-20)

These age groups do not exactly align with the differing expectations for supervision of minors. New Zealand law requires that no child under the age of 14 be left unattended. 

(6) ABOUT THE CAMPBELL AWARD. If you didn’t read it in August on Boing Boing, Locus Online has reposted Cory Doctorow’s opinion piece, “Jeannette Ng Was Right: John W. Campbell Was a Fascist”.

At the Hugo Awards ceremony at this summer’s Dublin Worldcon, Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Ng gave an outstanding and brave acceptance speech in which she called Campbell – the award’s namesake and one of the field’s most influential editors – a “fascist” and expressed solidarity with the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

I am a past recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2000) as well as a recipient of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2009). I believe I’m the only person to have won both of the Campbells, which, I think, gives me unique license to comment on Ng’s remarks, which have been met with a mixed reception from the field.

I think she was right – and seemly – to make her re­marks….

(7) SOMETHING IN COMMON. BBC explains an award and poses a question: “Staunch Book Prize: Should writers ditch female victims?”

From the escapades of an intern-turned-spy in Turkey’s capital to the tale of a priest in 15th Century Somerset, there might not be an obvious connection between the novels shortlisted for this year’s Staunch Book Prize.

But they have one thing in common: none of them involve physical or sexual violence towards women.

The prize, which is in its second year, recognises thrillers in which “no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered”.

But while some commend it for challenging stereotypes, others accuse it of ignoring social realities.

Speaking to the BBC, shortlisted authors and other writers share their views on why female characters are so often the victims of violence – and whether that needs to change.

(8) GENTLEMEN, BE OBLITERATED. The Space Review’s article “Nuking the site from orbit: when the Air Force wanted a base on the Moon” mentions Heinlein’s 1940s vision of a moon base with atomic weaponry.

…The concept of the Moon as a strategic base apparently dates at least back to 1948 and an article by Robert S. Richardson titled “Rocket Blitz From the Moon” in the mass-market Collier’s magazine. The article was beautifully illustrated by famed space artist Chesley Bonestell. In one Bonestell painting a bullet-shaped rocket (illogically equipped with large aerodynamic fins) is blasting off from a lunar crater. Another rocket stands prepped in the background and a lunar base is tucked into the side of a mountain. In the next illustration—probably Bonestell’s most dramatic painting ever—Manhattan has been blasted with at least three atomic bombs.

Richardson’s article focused primarily on the physics of the Moon: the low gravity, the lack of air, the trajectory and velocity calculations for firing rockets at the Earth. Rather than advocate that the United States should build a lunar rocket base, Richardson warned that another country could undertake a secret project to develop a lunar base and achieve strategic surprise against the United States. He did not clearly explain why the Moon would be a good place for basing missiles other than its presumed safety from Earth observation, and he noted that it would take at least a day for a rocket to reach Earth with its warhead. Considering that there were other means of basing long-range strategic weapons that did not involve the massive cost of a space program and a lunar base, Richardson’s idea was fanciful at best. But Collier’s was a large circulation magazine, not a science fiction pulp, and this short article certainly reached a big audience and probably fired some imaginations.

Richardson was not the only person writing about the possibilities of using space as a platform for attacking Earth. Robert Heinlein co-wrote a non-fiction article in August 1947, also for Collier’s, called “Flight into the Future.” Heinlein and his co-author, US Navy Captain Caleb Laning, suggested basing atomic weapons in orbit, and Heinlein later used this idea in his book Space Cadet. The 1950 movie Destination Moon, which Heinlein co-wrote, also echoed a similar theme (see “Heinlein’s ghost (part 1)”, The Space Review, April 9, 2007). One of the characters in the movie explains why a lunar base is necessary: “There is absolutely no way to stop an attack from outer space. The first country that can use the Moon for the launching of missiles will control the Earth. That, gentlemen, is the most important military fact of this century.”…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 5, 1938 Jim Steranko, 81. His breakthough series  was the Sixties “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales and in the subsequent debut series. His design sensibility is widespread within and without the comics industry effecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as he created the conceptual art and character designs for them. He was inducted into the comic-book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Born November 5, 1942 Frank Gasperik. Tuckerized in as a character in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red,  and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” co-written with Leslie Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 5, 1944 Carol Anne Douglas, 75. Although she has two inarguably genre series In the  Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator and the Sword and Circlet novels, I’m here to pitch to you her Social Justice Warrior credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series.  Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie, the cat himself in a style some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character.
  • Born November 5, 1949 Armin Shimerman, 70. Quark on Deep Space Nine. And Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer who if I remember correctly came to a very bad end.  He had the recurring role of Pascal on Beauty and the Beast. He also played Professor George Edward Challenger in the later Nineties Lost World film.
  • Born November 5, 1960 ?Tilda Swinton, 59. Her take as Rosetta/Ruby/Marinne/Olive in Teknolust might be the most weird genre role she’s done but I like her take as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as her best role to date. Mind you her Gabriel in Constantine was frelling strange…
  • Born November 5, 1961 Sam Rockwell, 58. First in our area of interest as the Head Thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve got him next being Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not a role I knew. Ahhh, Guy Fleegman on Galaxy Quest. And lastly, he was Zaphod Beeblebroxin The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 
  • Born November 5, 1964 Famke Janssen, 55. Her first genre role was Xenia Onatopp in the Bond film GoldenEye and her longest running genre role was as Jean Grey / Phoenix (Dark Phoenix) in the X-Men film series. Counting horror which I do, she’s got a number of genre appearance including Lord of IllusionsThe WolverineHouse on Haunted HillDeep Rising and Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Born November 5, 1970 Tamzin Outhwaite, 49. She was Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint on Paradox, a SF police series that ran for just five episodes and received really harsh reviews. Her only other SF role was as the Captain in an Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver” which was scripted by Neil Gaiman. 

(10) BE FREE! ABC news reports “Chicago book returns surge 240% after city eliminates fines”.

“Just by word of mouth and also on the library’s social media pages like Facebook, we saw a lot of patrons say, ‘Oh my God. This is so great. I’m gonna bring back my books. I’ve been hesitant to come back to the library because I owe these fines,'” Telli said.

Chicago became the nation’s first major city to forgo overdue fines, which went into effect Oct. 1 and erased all outstanding fees. Mayor Lori Lightfoot framed the policy change as her latest attempt to remove barriers that deter youth and low-income patrons.

Lightfoot is also making an effort to open libraries on Sundays. The mayor’s 2020 budget includes an $18 million property tax increase to honor her promise to establish Sunday hours at Chicago’s 81 libraries. Currently, the Harold Washington central library and three regional libraries are open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

(11) NEVER? WELL, HARDLY EVER. Even Book View Café’s  Madeleine E. Robins will sometimes “RTFM*”.

I am, by nature, a dive-in-and-figure-it-out sort of technology user. This may come from my early days as a computer user, when my then room-mate and sometime business partner dropped a box on my desk and said “we’re doing a user’s manual for X Corp. Can you learn this” — this being PageMaker, the forerunner of InDesign, a page layout program–“by next week? I should have copy for you then.”

Reader, I did not rise up and slay him; I learned the program, eventually well enough that I taught classes in it. I still use those skills:  one of the things I do at my day job is to use InDesign to produce the posters, ads, and other marketing materials that the museum I work at needs for promotion….

(* Read the Fucking Manual.)

(12) PERFECTLY CLEAR. Will this New York Times opinion piece make it all better? Next question! “Martin Scorsese: I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain.”

…In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.

I’m certainly not implying that movies should be a subsidized art form, or that they ever were. When the Hollywood studio system was still alive and well, the tension between the artists and the people who ran the business was constant and intense, but it was a productive tension that gave us some of the greatest films ever made — in the words of Bob Dylan, the best of them were “heroic and visionary.”

Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other….

(13) ELRIC MEETS DUNGEON SYNTH. A Moorcock-obsessed United Kingdom musician who goes by the name Elric is working in the “dungeon synth” genre (an eerie combination of goth, classical, and folk tunes played on 80s synths). The releases are on Bandcamp and are named “Antihero”, “Stormbringer”, and “Elric of Melnibone”. They are all “name your price.” As Bandcamp said about one of the releases:

It’s safe to say that fantasy literature and role-playing games (the tabletop and the video variety) loom large in the world of Dungeon Synth, and Elric expertly combines both of them. Inspired by the chiptune soundtracks of games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana as well as (obviously) the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock, Elric’s music is the perfect soundtrack to crawling through (16-bit) alcoves, searching for abandoned potions and treasure while trying to avoid the hungry ghouls hidden in the shadows.”

(14) DO ME A SOLID. “Searching For Solid Ice As Scientists Freeze In To Study A Warming Arctic” – BBC delivers lots of meaty detail and pictures.

High up in the Arctic Ocean close to the North Pole, a solitary ship floats in darkness, moored to an expansive piece of ice.

If all goes according to plan the ship will remain with that ice for an entire year, so that scientists on board can study the Arctic system and how it’s responding to climate change.

It’s a project called the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC). But finding a piece of ice thick and stable enough to host the mission’s science and logistics is not easy, and there may be challenges for the ice and the scientists in the months ahead.

…The MOSAiC expedition – about a decade in the planning – is an international collaboration involving hundreds of scientists and almost 20 countries. Their goal is to better understand the changing Arctic and improve how it’s represented in climate models.

“We need this information because the Arctic is changing so rapidly, and it’s a place that we have not observed very well in the past,” says Matthew Shupe, an atmospheric scientist with the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-coordinator for MOSAiC.

The last time scientists looked at the Arctic Ocean system so comprehensively was more than 20 years ago. But the Arctic has been warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the picture there has changed dramatically.

That’s why these researchers want a year out in the ice: to get an updated look at how the physics, the chemistry, and the biology of this area work during all four seasons.

(15) BIG HOOCH. NPR finds “Climate Change Is Disrupting Centuries-Old Methods Of Winemaking In France”.

In France, climate change is already impacting one of the country’s most emblematic industries — winemaking. French vintners say heat, drought and erratic weather is altering the landscape and their centuries-old way of working.

Brothers Remi and Gregoire Couppé are fourth generation winemakers who craft a top vintage, grand cru St Emilion. In the last few years they’ve been confronted with some new challenges. Forty-four-year-old Remi Couppé says there’s no denying the weather is getting hotter and drier.

“Because of the grapes. They show us the change,” he says. “Especially in alcohol. The alcohol level has been getting higher in the last five years.” These days, the alcohol content by volume can reach 15%, he says; when he was a boy, “it was maximum 12 [% ABV]. It’s causing me some problems when I start the vinification process, because I have to use new yeast to avoid too much alcohol. It’s really new for me.”

The higher alcohol levels come from increased sugar in the grapes due to more sun and heat. What’s also new are some of the plants sprouting up between the vines. Couppé picks a flowery-looking weed, holding it up to the blazing sun. “This plant is from the south of Europe and I never saw it here in my life before four years ago.”

Couppé says you have to be careful when using the mechanized harvester now, because such plants can get mixed in and ad a taste to the grapes.

The brothers say in the past three years they’ve completely stopped a process called “stripping,” where most of the vine leaves are removed just before the harvest. Now they need the leaves’ shade to keep the grapes from burning on the vine. Couppé points to a shriveled, sun-exposed cluster of grapes next to the dark, plump ones still shaded by the leaves.

(16) OUTSIDE OPINION. BBC tells how “Voyagers shed light on Solar System’s structure”.

Data sent back by the two Voyager spacecraft have shed new light on the structure of the Solar System.

Forty-two years after they were launched, the spacecraft are still going strong and exploring the outer reaches of our cosmic neighbourhood.

By analysing data sent back by the probes, scientists have worked out the shape of the vast magnetic bubble that surrounds the Sun.

The two spacecraft are now more than 10 billion miles from Earth.

Researchers detail their findings in six separate studies published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“We had no good quantitative idea how big this bubble is that the Sun creates around itself with its solar wind – ionised plasma that’s speeding away from the Sun radially in all directions,” said Ed Stone, the longstanding project scientist for the missions.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Lee Whiteside, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]